Yesterday we were contacted by a PR representative of the Austrian banking group Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB) with the following message:
Austria’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has now officially declared that there is no grounds for suspicion against RZB in connection with allegations of money laundering. See below the regarding article published in APA (Austrian Press Agency). This development convincingly underlines that the statement we made yesterday was correct and that the claims made by Hermitage are without merit.
As you have dedicated substantial coverage to these claims, I hope that you will also adequately publish the fact that a review conducted by the FMA has clearly established that RZB was not misused in order to conduct money laundering. I am certain that the FMA will be glad to confirm these facts and have included the contact details for the FMA’s spokesperson.
Sounds fair to us. Here’s a link to the Reuters coverage of the decision to halt the investigation.
UPDATE: We’ve been contacted by several readers who point out that there are two separate investigations into RZB on money laundering from Russia, and this dismissal of the earlier FMA inquiry has nothing to do with the Hermitage claims. The more recent investigation being undertaken by the Austrian prosecutor was launched in June and won’t report until October, so RZB is not yet out in the clear.