Visa and MasterCard have resumed payment transaction services for cardholders at Russia’s SMP Bank, where main shareholders have been the target of US sanctions since Friday.
Visa stated it had been informed by Washington to lift sanctions against SMP and two other banks – Investitsionny Soyuz (Investment Union) and Investcapitalbank – as "they did not meet the criteria" for sanctions.
A spokesperson for MasterCard said it was again serving clients of the bank but did not explain why it reversed its decision.
Last Friday, both international payment systems froze cards issued by SMP Bank, Investcapitalbank and Rossiya Bank – including subsidiary Sobinbank – "in order to comply with US law".
SMP bank had said the decision was unlawful because the sanctions were imposed on shareholders, not the bank, which said it has no assets in the US.
The sanctions were put in place over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and specifically the region of Crimea.
No information was released concerning the resuming of services for Rossiya Bank, a lender reputed to be very close to Kremlin’s officials.