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Banks shun U.S. law firm trying to represent Russian lender VTB

The emblem of VTB financial institution is noticed at the St. Petersburg Worldwide Financial Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

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  • New York’s Brafman & Associates states it was presently rejected by a few financial institutions and is asking many others to facilitate client payments
  • The financial institution is fighting statements it served send funds to Russian separatists that allegedly shot down a aircraft in 2014

(Reuters) – Legal professionals who have agreed to symbolize Russia’s sanctioned VTB Bank in U.S. litigation say a third lender has refused to function with them to tackle lawful charge payments, forcing them to request extra time to enter the scenario.

Manhattan law business Brafman & Associates has been making an attempt since early June to formally signal on as protection counsel for VTB in a lawsuit claiming the bank facilitated payments related with the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight above japanese Ukraine.

Global law firm Latham & Watkins said in April that it meant to withdraw from representing the sanctioned bank. The Brafman business has explained it simply cannot enter the case right up until it is paid.

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In a courtroom submitting Friday, Brafman law firm Marc Agnifilo said he and one more lawyer at the agency have “spoken repeatedly” with officials at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Business of Overseas Belongings Control, which oversees sanctions. He reported the agency verified that payments to the agency for its illustration of VTB would be legal, even with U.S. sanctions, due to the fact the bank is named in a federal lawsuit, in accordance to court papers.

Nonetheless, two U.S. banking institutions have outright declined to course of action a payment from Russia, Agnifilo mentioned. A different lender mentioned the law business was also modest to get on as a shopper, and the attorneys are waiting to listen to back from a fourth lender. The business has contacted two extra financial institutions about accepting VTB’s payment, in accordance to Agnifilo.

OFAC officials advised one particular of the financial institutions that the payment from Russia would be legal, but the money establishment would continue to not acknowledge it “due to its individual interior ‘risk framework,’” Agnifilo explained.

The filings do not name the banking institutions concerned, and Agnifilo declined to identify them to Reuters.

“VTB deserves lawful representation, the plaintiff justifies to have the assert settled and the court justifies to have the situation transfer forward, and we will proceed to look for for a option,” he reported in an e mail.

A justice of the peace decide in Manhattan has now given VTB till Aug. 4 to have new attorneys enter the scenario.

Law organization Jenner & Block, symbolizing the relatives of American Quinn Schansman who was killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight, opposed the ask for for additional time, according to a letter filed with the court. The Jenner lawyers argued that the “continued hold off prejudices the Schansman family’s ability to timely go after important discovery from VTB.”

A Jenner spokesperson did not instantly return a request for remark.

Several global regulation firms stopped symbolizing sanctioned Russian shoppers pursuing the invasion of Ukraine. An additional sanctioned Russian financial institution in the very same situation, Sberbank, also noticed its attorneys with the world regulation corporations White & Case and Debevoise & Plimpton exit the litigation.

They have been replaced with legal professionals at Wilk Auslander, another tiny Manhattan law organization.

Both Russian banks are combating promises they facilitated money transfers to Russian separatists that allegedly shot down the airplane.

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