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March 10, 2022updated 23 Mar 2022 2:41pm

BNP Paribas blocks Russian team from IT systems as cyber threat grows

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French banking group BNP Paribas has blocked its team in Russia from its internal systems to thwart potential cyber threats emanating from Russia, Reuters reported citing an internal memo.

BNP Paribas, which is among the first lenders to make such a move, has also asked employees in other locations to stay on high alert for cyber threats.

By blocking the Russia-based team’s access to the IT systems, the bank seeks to block cybercriminals who could use its local network as access points.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led the US and its NATO allies to impose unprecedented financial sanctions on Russia, which has left Western firms scrambling for cover.

BNP Paribas revealed that its total exposure to Russia and Ukraine is limited and stands at around €3bn ($3.3bn).

Its Russian team has a headcount of less than 500, which makes only a fraction of its more than 190,000 global workforce.

The lender pulled the plug on its Russian retail banking operations in 2012 and exited consumer finance in 2020.

The lender said it is keeping a close eye on developments in Russia and Ukraine and will stick to its financial objectives for 2025.

BNP Paribas said its total exposure to Ukraine was around €1.7bn or 0.09% of the group’s total commitments and, for Russia, it was around €1.3bn or 0.07% as of 31 December 2021.

“Considering the way BNP Paribas operates in those two markets and secures its activities with guarantees and collaterals at a high level, the net residual combined exposures of BNP Paribas for Russia and Ukraine stand at around €500m,” the lender noted.