MOSCOW, February 9, 2015 (BETA) - A court of appeals in Moscow today overturned the decision of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) to revoke Atlas Bank’s licence to operate on the Russian market, Atlas Group President Duško Knežević has told BETA.

“The Ninth Court of Appeals of the City of Moscow today ruled in favour of Atlas Bank and overturned the decision of the first-instance court to revoke the bank’s licence. This is hugely satisfying for us. We both proved our innocence in court and that the CBR had been too strict when it revoked our operating licence in May last year,” said Knežević.

According to him, the CBR could have and should have levied a lighter penalty, and not have revoked the licence for minor operational errors. “I believe that the fact that the Association of Russian Banks, which gathers over 700 banks, supported Atlas Bank in writing was crucial for the court,” said Knežević.

Knežević added that the ruling has legal effect as of today and that it will be enforceable within seven to ten days after it is published in the official gazette and the media. 

“When the decision is enforceable, we will take over management of the bank from the Central Bank. CBR has two months in which to submit extraordinary legal remedy if it judges there are reasons to do so. We are in the final stage of negotiations with a Russian-Serbian consortium on transferring a 100-percent stake in the bank to the consortium. I am convinced that they were most pleased with this decision today because they will soon take over the reins of a fully-fledged banking institution,” added Knežević.

He recalled that last year the CBR revoked 94 licences. “This was a huge blow for us, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues from the CB who managed the bank after the decision, with a high level of professionalism and with the correct attitude,” said Knežević.

Another reason for Atlas Bank to be satisfied is that there is enough money on the bank’s account for all its clients to be paid next week in line with the legal proceedings.

“In our case, there is talk that the decision was politically motivated and a consequence of Montenegro joining in with the sanctions against Russia. I have always advocated freedom of movement of goods, services and capital, and sanctions always produce a counter-effect. Russia and the West will sooner or later sit down at the negotiating table and solve their mutual disputes because the shared interests are more important than disputes,” said the president of Atlas Group.

He added that he believes in the huge potentials of Russia and the post-Soviet space and that he will continue to focus on that region.

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