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Press Release- Embassy of Belarus : 17 June 2020

June 15, 2020

Belarus registers 54,680 coronavirus cases, 312 deaths as of Jun 15, 2020

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 54,680 confirmed coronavirus cases as of June 15, 2020, 312 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

30,420 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

As reported, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 53,973 a day before; 308 patients died.

The Health Ministry reports 750,000 tests for the coronavirus infection as of June 15, 2020. End

Belarus’ Economy Ministry expects 1.5-1.7% GDP contraction in Jan-May 2020

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. The Ministry of Economy of Belarus expects a year-on-year decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) of Belarus by 1.5-1.7% in January-May 2020, Minister of Economy of Belarus Alexander Chervyakov said on May 12 during his visit to Bobruiskagromash OJSC (Mogilev Oblast), the ministry’s press office reports.

Belarus’ GDP fell in January-April 2020 by 1.3% year on year to Br41.092 billion ($17.3 billion at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus), the official growth forecast for 2020 being 2.8%.

“Indeed, a number of industrial enterprises focused on foreign markets are experiencing certain difficulties. However, the GDP decline in May will be insignificant. We expect that GDP will decrease by 0.2–0.3 percentage points yoy in January-May to 98.3–98.5%. The economic decline rate is slowing down. Our task is to reverse this trend towards recovery. According to our estimates, the recovery will begin in the third quarter,” Chervyakov said.

He said earlier that the Ministry of Economy was working on measures aimed at restoring economic growth to the target set for 2020 as much as possible. Chervyakov believes the chance to resume growth is high, since the government chose not to shut enterprises down. Otherwise, “it would take years to recover.” He said that agriculture, construction, the IT industry and food processing showed growth, and oil products and potash fertilizers output began to grow. Chervyakov confirmed the plan to achieve $100 billion in yearly GDP by 2025. End

Belarus’ producer prices down 0.2% in May 2020, up 3.7% in Jan-May 2020

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Belarusian producer prices decreased in May 2020 by 0.2% month on month and rose by 3.7% from December 2019, the National Statistics Committee (Belstat) told PrimePress.

Prices of producer goods increased in May 2020 by 0.8% month on month and by 3.9% from December 2019; intermediate goods – down 0.4%, up 4.3%, respectively; consumer goods – up 0.3% and 1.5%, respectively.

Agricultural producer prices decreased in May 2020 by 0.3% month on month and increased by 2.9% from December 2019; crop prices – down 2.1%, up 2.4%, respectively; livestock – up 0.2% and 3%, respectively.

Construction prices decreased by 0.9% month on month in May 2020, up 4.9% from Dec 2019. Prices of construction and installation works increased by 0.3% and 1.8%, respectively; prices of machinery and equipment decreased by 1.2% and rose by 6.7%, respectively; prices of other works and expenses decreased by 5.5% and rose by 7.6%, respectively.

Freight tariffs (all means of transportation) decreased by 0.6% month on month in May 2020, up 5.7% from Dec 2019

Telecom tariffs for entities and private entrepreneurs rose by 0.04% month on month in May 2020, by 1% from Dec 2019. End

National Bank’s net foreign assets down 16.4% in Jan-May 2020 to $7.37bn

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Net foreign assets of the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) amounted to U.S. $7.37 billion in Jan-May against Jan 1, 2020, down 16.4%, the National Bank of Belarus said in a statistical report.

The National Bank’s net foreign assets reduced following a decrease in gross foreign assets by 15.7% in Jan-May 2020 to $8.266 billion and a 9.8% decrease in foreign liabilities to $896.6 million as of Jun 1, 2020.

Monetary gold accounted for $3.198bn of the National Bank’s gross foreign assets as of Jun 1, 2020 (up 12.1% since early 2020), deposits – $4.09bn (down 28%), credits – $232.7m (down 76.6%), securities (except shares) – $736m (up 210%), foreign exchange – $9.1m (down 79.8%), other assets – $0.066m against $0.002 as of Jan 1, 2020.

Credits accounted for $339.5m of the National Bank’s external liabilities as of Jun 1, 2020 (down 19.9% since early 2020), securities (except shares) – none as in the beginning of the year, deposits – $52.2m (down 13.5%), other liabilities – $504.9m (down 0.9%).

In 2019, net foreign assets of the Belarusian government and the National Bank of Belarus grew by 41.3% to U.S. $8.815 billion as of January 1, 2020. End

Belarus banks’ net foreign assets down 6.2% to minus $3.365bn in Jan-May 2020

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Net foreign assets of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions amounted to minus U.S. $3.365 billion as of Jun 1, 2020, down 6.2% in Jan-May 2020, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) said in a statistical report.

Net foreign assets of commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions increased by 3.4% in Jan-May 2020 to $1.913 billion, while foreign liabilities of banks grew by 5.2% to $5.278 billion as of Jun 1, 2020.

Deposits accounted for $916.7 million of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions’ net foreign assets (up 5.3% against Jan 1, 2020), credits – $315.7m (down 16.8%), foreign exchange – $515.4m (up 36.5%), securities (except shares) – $126.1m (down 8.5%), other assets – $39.1m (down 46.3%).

Credits accounted for $4.556bn of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions’ external liabilities as of Jun 1, 2020 (up 5% against Jan 1, 2020), deposits – $703.4m (up 6.9%), securities (except shares) – $0.00 compared with $0.00 as of Jan 1, 2020, other liabilities – $18.9m (down 5.6%).

In 2019, net foreign assets of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions reduced by 24.1% to minus $3.168 billion as of January 1, 2019. End

NBB appoints interim administration to Belgazprombank

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) appointed on June 15, 2020 the interim administration to Belgazprombank OJSC headed by Nadezhda Yermakova. The bank’s board was suspended for the period of the interim administration, the National Bank reports.

“By resolution No.192 of June 14, 2020 the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus appoints the interim administration to Belgazprombank OJSC on June 15, 2020 to protect the interests of depositors and creditors of Belgazprombank and to prevent deterioration of its financial standing,” reads the statement.

According to the NBB, this is in line with Articles 94, 97, 134 and 1341 of the Banking Code of the Republic of Belarus. The decision was made after the Financial Investigations Department of State Control Committee (SCC) initiated a criminal case against Belgazprombank executives under section 235.3 (legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime) and section 243.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus.

The National Bank’s decision is aimed at ensuring stable and uninterrupted operation of Belgazprombank and provision of banking services to depositors and creditors. The National Bank will provide support to Belgazprombank, if necessary.

NBB Spokesman Alexander Timoshenko says this is done because of “non-compliance with the license requirement set by the National Bank regarding the presence of risk management and internal control in the bank.”

According to Timoshenko, under the legislation in place, the head of the interim administration appoints members of the interim administration within seven days from the date of the introduction of the interim administration, and notifies the National Bank in writing of the personnel appointed by the administration within the time frame specified.

As previously reported, on May 12, 2020, Chairman of the Board of Belgazprombank Viktor Babariko announced his intention to run for president and, on the same day, stepped down as board chairman after 20 years in office. As of June 12, Babariko’s initiative group collected over 335,000 signatures for his registration as a presidential candidate (at least 100,000 are required). The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for August 9, 2020.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko told reporters on June 12 that he instructed State Control Committee Chairman Ivan Tertel to investigate an alleged financial fraud in Belgazprombank. Lukashenko accused Babariko of withdrawing money outside Belarus. He called Babariko a “villain” who was trying to “edge into the president’s office.” He said that bank’s operations had been raising questions since 2016 and pointed at Babariko as the organizer of the fraud. Lukashenko demanded that Babariko “return everything he had stolen to the people.” On June 11, the police conducted searches in offices of Belgazprombank and its partner companies, and detained 15 persons, including two deputy chairs of the bank.

Tertel told on TV on June 12 that he had convincing evidence of the involvement of former head of Belgazprombank Babariko in illegal activities. He claimed that “an organized criminal group was formed at the bank to transfer money to foreign accounts.” He said that the police seized over $4 million in cash and $500,000 in securities from the detainees, and found digipasses.

Babariko called the searches at the bank and partner companies “politically motivated acts” and intimidation. In his opinion, the law enforcers coerce the detained to defame him, as there is no evidence against him. Babariko said that Belgazprombank had been inspected by international and Belarusian auditors more than once, and no violations had been ever detected. Babariko does not rule out that the authorities will resort to his arrest.

Russian Gazprom PJSC, one of Belgazprombank’s major shareholders, said on June 12 that hostile actions against Belgazprombank were committed in violation of the laws of Belarus and affect interests of Russian shareholders. Belgazprombank shareholders intend to seek protection of their rights by available legal means and are taking measures to ensure financial stability of the bank.

Belgazprombank OJSC was established in 1990 as an authorized bank of Gazprom Group in Belarus. Russian Gazprom PJSC and Gazprombank JSC own 49.66% stake in Belgazprombank; Gazprom Transgaz Belarus – 0.49%; the Republic of Belarus represented by the Ministry of Energy of Belarus – 0.18%. Belgazprombank was assigned to the systemic significance Group I. End

Situation with Belgazprombank undermines investment climate in Belarus – expert

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Former head of the National Bank of Belarus (1991-1995), Honorary Chairman of the opposition United Civil Party Stanislav Bogdankevich says that the situation with Belgazprombank undermines Belarus’ investment attractiveness.

The police searched the head office of the bank in Minsk. The State Control Committee claims that an organized criminal group operated at Belgazprombank run for two decades by presidential office seeker Viktor Babariko, transferring money to foreign accounts. Fifteen people were detained, including top managers of the bank. Babariko stays at large. He calls the attack on the bank a politically motivated act in anticipation of the presidential election scheduled for August 9. The National Bank of Belarus said on June 15 that an interim administration was appointed to Belgazprombank under the supervision of Nadezhda Yermakova.

Earlier, the State Control Committee of Belarus reported that during the searches at the bank’s head office in Minsk and some other commercial entities, the police seized around illegally obtained $4 million in cash, $500,000 in securities, gold, bonds and digipasses. Belarus-1 state TV channel said on June 14 that around 150 paintings worth nearly $20 million were also seized.

“Everyone [in Belarus] says that the country should be made attractive for private investors. This is being ruined by the government intervention in financial and economic activities. The law is breached. The authorities should not intervene,” Bogdankevich told Russian RIA Novosti.

The expert considers it outrageous that the National Bank serves interests of certain external [in relation to the NBB] forces, the ongoing election campaign, instead of upholding the law. He underscores that the central bank must be independent, and, theoretically, its board should not even be changed if the government is changed, because financial and national currency stability and inflation depend on it. “The National Bank should be beyond politics, as prescribed by law in a law-governed state,” Bogdankevich said.

He calls the appointment of the interim administration to Belgazprombank “arbitrariness on the part of the Belarusian authorities.” External administration may be advisable in case of bankruptcy or insolvency of a bank, or there are particular problems with its operation. “But the board was working well; the National Bank conducted annual audits at all banks, including Belgazprombank. Independent audit firms also conducted inspections. Belgazprombank is a private bank, not a state one. Owners decide how to utilize profits,” said the expert.

The bank’s supervisory board includes Belarusian officials (former Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov and business school head Pavel Daneyko). “How this takeover is supposed to improve the investment climate?” said the ex-head of the National Bank.

Bogdankevich considers statements on Belgazprombank far-fetched and doubts that gross tax evasion may be detected in one day. He is amused that the bank is accused of legal purchases of paintings that were brought into the country and exhibited as a corporate collection, although this money could be used to pay dividends. “What is so bad that he bought paintings for Belarus? This [accusations] is a show for the common people. They found 4 million dollars at the bank. But where to find it, if not at a bank? Banks are established to store money,” the expert said, “This is one of the largest banks. Yes, it is a foreign bank, but it operates in Belarus, aiding by the laws of Belarus, and all resources are used for the benefit of Belarus.”

Belgazprombank OJSC was established in 1990 as an authorized bank of Gazprom Group in Belarus. Russian Gazprom PJSC and Gazprombank JSC own 49.66% stake in Belgazprombank; Gazprom Transgaz Belarus – 0.49%; the Republic of Belarus represented by the Ministry of Energy of Belarus – 0.18%. . Belgazprombank belongs to Tier I Group. End

Belgazprombank continues normal operation under interim administration

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Belgazprombank continues normal operation under the recently appointed interim administration, the bank’s press office reports.

“The appointment of the interim administration did not affect financial stability and sustainability of Belgazprombank OJSC. As of June 15, 2020, the bank has a sufficient margin of safety and continues to operate normally. The National Bank of Belarus promised support to Belgazprombank OJSC, if required,” the press office says.

The National Bank’s decision is aimed at ensuring stable and uninterrupted operation of Belgazprombank and provision of banking services to depositors and creditors.

The police searched the head office of the bank in Minsk. The State Control Committee claims that an organized criminal group operated at Belgazprombank run for two decades by presidential office seeker Viktor Babariko, transferring money to foreign accounts. Fifteen people were detained, including top managers of the bank. Babariko stays at large. He calls the attack on the bank a politically motivated act in anticipation of the presidential election scheduled for August 9.

Belgazprombank OJSC was established in 1990 as an authorized bank of Gazprom Group in Belarus. Russian Gazprom PJSC and Gazprombank JSC own 49.66% stake in Belgazprombank; Gazprom Transgaz Belarus – 0.49%; the Republic of Belarus represented by the Ministry of Energy of Belarus – 0.18%. Belgazprombank belongs to Tier I Group. End

Monday forex session: ruble down 0.36% against dollar to Br2.3867/$1

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.3867/$1 to the dollar on Jun 15, down 0.36% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Monday, the ruble stood at Br2.6854/€1 to the euro, up 0.13%; at Br3.3937/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.52%.

As reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

Belarus’ Energy Ministry and EBRD to negotiate €14.11m loan for power supply to FEZ Minsk

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. The Ministry of Energy of Belarus will hold talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on a loan of €14.11 million in 2020-2022 to develop the electrical supply network in the Free Economic Zone (SEZ) Minsk (government resolution No.336 of June 11, 2020 posted on the National Legal Internet Portal on June 13).

The ministry plans to take the loan for 15 years to finance the construction of the 110/10 kV Cherkasy substation with high-voltage 110 kV lines for power supply to section 10 in the Fanipol District of ​​the Free Economic Zone Minsk.

The ministry is allowed making amendments to the agreement that are not of a fundamental nature, and signing a loan agreement upon approval under the investment project.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is an international financial institution headquartered in London, created to support the economic transformations in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the start of its operations in Belarus in 1992, the EBRD has invested €2.895 billion in 131 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy. In 2016 the EBRD adopted a new strategy for operations in Belarus in 2016-2019. The document abolished the calibrated approach, which restricted EBRD operations with the public sector. Belarus and the EBRD have been implementing a number of projects in utilities industry, energy saving, transport infrastructure and environment protection.

The Free Economic Zone Minsk (over 2,791 hectares in area) was established on March 2, 1998 at the initiative of the Minsk City and Minsk Regional Executive Committees. The FEZ is located on 23 sites in Minsk and the Minsk Oblast near Fanipol, Molodechno, Borisov, Zhodino and Smolevichi. The FEZ numbered 117 resident companies as of June 11, 2020. End

Belarus’ farm product and food exports up 5.6% in Jan-Apr 2020 to $1.808bn

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. Belarus increased exports of farm products and foods in Jan-Apr 2020 by 5.6% year on year to $1.808 billion, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus reports.

The export of meat and meat products increased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 13.9% year on year to $320.1 million; milk and dairy products – by 8.4% to $777.9 million; potatoes – by 3.6% to $19.6 million

In January-April 2020, Belarusian enterprises supplied agricultural products and foods to 92 countries against 83 in January-April 2019.

As reported, Belarus plans to increase exports of farm products and foods by 4.2% year on year in 2020 to $5.729 billion. End

NBB’s currency rates as of Jun 16, 2020

MINSK, Jun 15 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on Jun 15 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for Jun 16, 2020.

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.6267
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3727
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 8.8956
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.6011
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.3867
1 EURO EUR 2.6854
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 6.0522
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.6826
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.7652
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.2242
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7498
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3635
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.7520
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3876
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.5356
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.4593
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.3937
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2997
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.7103
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.1904
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.8771
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.4915
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 2.9932
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 10.0383
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.5485
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.5070

 

June 12, 2020

Belarus registers 52,520 coronavirus cases as of Jun 12, 2020, 298 dead

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 52,520 coronavirus cases as of June 12, 2020, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

27,760 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals.

Yesterday, the ministry reported 51,816 registered coronavirus cases and 293 deaths in Belarus.

The Health Ministry says 697,000 tests for the coronavirus infection have been conducted in Belarus as of June 12.

Batyr Berdyklychev, who officially represents the World Health Organization (WHO) in Belarus, told reporters on June 12 that Belarus is still going through the stage of local stage of virus transmission and the situation remains serious. The WHO representative reminded about the necessity to take precautions and urged the state to put more effort into raising public awareness about social distancing and other precautionary measures. End

Xi Jinping promises to support Belarusian exports to China – Lukashenko’s press service

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. President of China Xi Jinping said he would support Belarusian exports to China, especially with regard to food products – dairy products, beef and chicken meat.

The prospects of sustaining Belarus’ exports to China were on the agenda for the June 11 telephone conversation between Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

This was discussed during a telephone conversation between on June 11, reported the press service of the Belarusian president.

 

“At learning that Belarus’ main problem is export, chairman of the People’s Republic of China invited Belarus to submit its application to the relevant bodies of China and promised to consider it as soon as possible. This will be done by First Deputy Prime Minister [Nikolai Snopkov], who is still in China. China is also ready to provide financial assistance,” the report says.

The parties also discussed the planned visit of the Chinese Chairman to Belarus. Lukashenko emphasized that the country is looking forward to this visit, which will further strengthen “iron brotherhood and all-weather friendship between Belarus and China. Xi Jinping said that if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, it would have happened long ago. He stressed that he highly appreciates face-to-face meetings, which are more important and effective than a telephone conversation. The President of the People’s Republic of China is waiting for the meeting and is sure that it will be held, the press service reported.

Lukashenko also spoke in detail about the Belarusian way and practice in combating the pandemic. They also discussed personnel issues. As previously reported, Lukashenko recalled Ambassador to China Snopkov offering him  First Deputy Prime Minister’s seat in the Belarusian government. Minsk will choose a figure just as strong as Snopkov to fill the diplomatic vacancy, said Lukashenko.

Lukashenko and Xi Jinping also discussed cooperation in the Great Stone Industrial Park, which already has 60 residents from 15 countries. End

Minsk interested in speedy start of talks on new framework agreement with EU – Belarus Foreign Ministry

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarus is interested in an early start of negotiations on a new framework agreement with the European Union (EU), Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makey said at a meeting of foreign ministers of the EU and the Eastern Partnership states on June 11.

As reported by the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, Makey emphasized the importance of joint actions to overcome the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and welcomed the EU intention to assist Belarus in this area.

In the context of the vision of further development of the Eastern Partnership, Makey emphasized the importance of promoting foreign investment, facilitating access of partner countries to the EU market, development of energy and transport communications, introduction of green and information technologies. He urged to support Belarus’ proposal to establish a regional Eastern Partnership IT school in Minsk.

As previously reported, agreements on visa facilitation and readmission between the Foreign Ministry of Belarus and the EU were signed in Brussels on January 8, 2020. The visa agreement provides for simplifying visa procedures and reducing the cost of Schengen visas for Belarusians down to €35.

With the entry into force of the readmission agreement, Belarus and the European Union will have to re-admit their own nationals, third-country nationals and stateless persons who do not meet or no longer meet the legal criteria in each other’s territories. End

Lukashenko comments on alleged ‘schemes’ by Belgazprombank top managers

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claims that police investigators have been monitoring murky activities by Belgazprombank personnel since 2016, but it has not been until December 2019 that they received information from foreign partners, which made it possible to fast-track the process.

The press service of the State Control Committee (SCC) of Belarus informed Prime on June 11 that searches were in progress at the main building of Belgazprombank, formerly headed during a 20-year period by Viktor Babariko, which is now campaigning for Belarus’ presidency. The SCC officers conducted searches in the framework of a criminal case launch on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering. On May 12, 2020 Babariko announced his intention to run for Belarus’ presidency. By now Babariko has already set an all-time record for an alternative aspirant, with 335,000 signatures collected in support of his nomination as a candidate for Belarus’ presidency. To get officially nominated and take part in the election, an individual is supposed to collect 100,000 signatures.

There are several suspects in the Belgazprombank case, including representatives of commercial companies, former and current bank employees. Babariko had ‘no procedural status’ in this case at 16:000 on June 12, 2020.

The SCC officers conducted searches in the framework of a criminal case launch on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering. The suspects are representatives of commercial companies, as well as former and current employees of the banking system. “Babariko has ‘no procedural status’ in this case,” the SCC said. According to Lukashenko, 15 people have been detained.

According to Lukashenko, the police have been working on this bank and on its affiliated firms since 2016. “We found money withdrawal, foreign accounts, their foreign property. In Cyprus. Accounts in Latvia, London… But foreigners have provided us with information – we kept asking since 2016, and they shared this data only in December 2019,” Lukashenko said on June 12 in Polotsk.

“I do not know in detail what is going on there. But I instructed the chairman of the State Control Committee. Now there are a lot of operational and investigative measures underway,” said Lukashenko.

Lukashenko said he had a chance to make himself familiar with the basic materials on operations by this bank, during a helicopter flight to Polotsk.

“What struck me most is that this scoundrel, I cannot call him otherwise, says: ‘I have nothing to do with this. They are the ones to blame’,” Lukashenko was cited by the state news agency BelTA as saying. “Look, they were not only his deputies. They are one gang. We’ve been watching this since 2016. We’ve seen it. Why are you shifting the blame on them today. You were the leader, they were your deputies. And everything that happened out there could’ve happened without a leader? No,” said Lukashenko.

According to him, there is comprehensive evidence that “it was all his (Babariko’s) plans, he created those structural pads like Privatleasing.

“But he (Babariko) does not understand one thing. When his accomplices were sent to the bunk, they already told everything last night. In two hours they brought in $14,000, then another $600,000 or $800,000. There are bars of gold, paintings, all brought at once: they have given away everything for fear of being punished. They received kind treatment though. They tell everything. That’s why he (Babariko) will have to tell it all,” said Lukashenko.

Lukashenko added that he had asked one of the members of the government to tell Babariko that the authorities were waiting for him to make a confession and “… give back to the people everything he stole.” Maybe the court will take that into account,” said Lukashenko.

Previously, on June 11 Babariko noted that from the point of view of the law, there can be no claims against the bank and its affiliated companies. “My activity as chairman of Belgazprombank for 20 years has not caused any comments from the point of view of law enforcement agencies. During this time Belgazprombank passed international audits, audits by Belarusian companies, was analyzed by audit companies of our shareholders, was audited by the National Bank. And the last audit, which had an extraordinary and urgent nature, was completed in January 2020. None of these audits have revealed any significant criticism of Belgazprombank activities, which could be the reason for such actions today with regard to the bank employees,” said Babriko.

Babariko supposes that today’s actions by the authorities are of political nature.

As previously reported, the presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for August 9, 2020. The first presidential election took place on June 23 (first round) and July 10, 1994 (second round). Alexander Lukashenko has been staying in office ever since. A referendum on amendments to Article 81 of the Constitution of Belarus, which abolished the limit of two five-year presidential terms for one person, was held on October 17, 2004. End

SCC chief claims Babariko’s involvement in criminal group activity at Belgazprombank

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Chairman of the State Control Committee (SCC) of Belarus Ivan Tertel has announced that there was a criminal group operating in Belgazprombank and former CEO Viktor Babariko, who announced on May 12 his intention to participate in the presidential elections in Belarus, was part of that group.

The SCC Financial Investigation Department initiated two criminal cases: under Article 235 of the Criminal Code (large-scale money laundering) and Article 243 of the Criminal Code (large-scale tax evasion). At present 15 persons are detained. “These are top managers, including deputy CEOs, managers at various levels, as well as representatives of commercial companies (mostly former employees of Belgazprombank),” Tertel said as quoted by the state agency BelTA.

Tertel accused the alleged criminal group led by Babariko of illegal withdrawal of funds from the bank to foreign countries.

“I can’t imagine that what was happening in the bank by the deputies could have been unknown to the manager. I can confirm that we now have strong evidence of his involvement in this illegal activity,” said the SCC chief.

Tertel says most of those detained cooperate with the investigation and make confessions. “In addition, they are giving away funds that they believe were obtained through criminal means. For example, yesterday we seized more than $4 million during the investigation, found and seized securities worth more than $500 thousand, found and attached to the materials the so-called digipasses (a tool that allows managing accounts in foreign banks),” said the SCC chairman. End

NBB ex-chairwoman Nadezhda Yermakova offered CEO seat at Belgazprombank – media reports

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Nadezhda Yermakova, who formerly stood at the helm of the National Bank of Belarus (NBB), has been offered the CEO post at Belgazprombank, the TUT.by news portal reports.

TUT.by claims Nadezhda Yermakova has personally confirmed the news and said she is ready to accept the offer.

Yermakova currently heads the board of directors of Belarus’ privately-owned BSB-Bank, where the National Bank introduced its administration in 2017. Prior to that, she worked as chairwoman of the National Bank, and before that – chairwoman of the board of the country’s largest state-owned bank – Belarusbank.

This situation will not affect the bank’s ratings yet, a source in the banking sector said in a comment for PrimePress. He notes that the rating is significantly influenced by the support of the bank shareholders, while Belgazprombank has never had any problems with this. End

Gazprom unhappy about Belarus govt’s way of conduct with Belgazprombank

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. The actions against Belgazprombank are committed in violation of the laws of Belarus, which affects interests of Russian shareholders of the bank, said Gazprom.

“Gazprombank and Gazprom, as shareholders in Belgazprombank, claim that June 11, 2020, in violation of the laws of the Republic of Belarus, the Board of the National Bank of Belarus carried out illegal actions on the appointment of Acting Chairman of the Board and Acting Deputy Chairman of Belgazprombank. These appointments were accompanied by the detention of Belgazprombank authorized board members by Belarusian law enforcement agencies,” Gazprom said in a press release.

Belgazprombank shareholders intend to seek protection of their rights and legal interests by all legal means available, as well as take all possible measures to protect the interests of clients and ensure the financial stability of the bank. End

Belarus ups ceiling on directed lending for state programmes in 2020 by 19% to Br1.26bn

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarus has raised the limit on directed lending in support of state programmes and activities in 2020 by 20% to Br1.26 billion ($530.6m). The Government of Belarus adopted a resolution to this effect on Jun 8, 2020.

The 2020 ceiling on directed lending in support of corporate projects approved by the president is up 36.2% to Br729.3 ($307.1 m); approved by the local authorities – up 4.1% to Br160.41m ($67.623m).

In particular, Belarus Development Bank’s 2020 credit limit has been increased by 34.2% to Br1.638bn ($689.7m), of which Br200.5m ($84.43m) will be invested in road maintenance.

The 2020 directed lending programme worth Br740 billion ($311.6m) was approved by the Government of Belarus’ resolution of December 28, 2019. In March 2020, however, the ceiling on directed lending was raised by 27% to facilitate lease purchases of farming equipment. End

Annual inflation in May 2020 slows down to 4.9% amid relaxed external pro-inflation factors – NBB

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Annual inflation slowed to 4.9% in May 2020, owing to price stabilization in the consumer market due to the weakening of the influence of inflationary external factors, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) said in the May 2020 inflation review.

Consumer prices increased by 4.9%, 5.4% and 4.9% year on year in May, April and March 2020, respectively.

Core inflation increased by 3.9%, 4.5% and 4% on the year in May, April and March 2020, respectively.

Regulated prices and tariffs increased by 6.7%, 7.3% and 7.5% on the year in May, April and March 2020, respectively.

The year-on-year increase in seasonal prices made up 11.5% in May 2020, 10.5% in April and 4% in March 2020.

The year-on-year aggregate trend inflation rate was at 3.4% in May, 3.9% in April and 3.8% in March 2020.

In annual terms of the maximum and minimum growth rates of regulated prices and tariffs in March 2020, medicines showed a 1.3% increase, in particular, tobacco products – up 11.1%, fuels – up 15.5%, personal transport insurance services – up 16.9%, tertiary education services – up 17.7%.

As previously reported, inflation in Belarus was up 0.1% in May 2020 and 3.2% in January-May. The official forecast for 2020 inflation is 5% or less, although the National Bank says a 6% increase would be possible. End

Belarus’ broad money supply up 1.2% in May 2020 to Br50.344bn

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarus’ broad money supply expanded by 1.2% month on month in May 2020 to Br50.344 billion ($21.2bn) as of June 1, 2020, Belarus’ monetary authorities said in an online report.

Deposits in foreign exchange in May 2020 reduced by 0.8% in May 2020 to Br28.162 billion ($11.86bn) as of June 1, 2020. The proportion of cash in circulation made up 55.94% as of June 1, 2020, to compare with 57.07% as of May 1, 2020 and 55.51% as of Jan 1, 2020.

Of the total money supply, cash in circulation (M0 aggregate) expanded by 5.2% month on month in May 2020 to Br3.956 billion ($1.67bn) as of June 1, 2020.

The share of M0 in broad money supply stood at 7.86% as of June 1, 2020 (7.56% as of May 1, 2020; 7.64% as of Jan 1, 2020).

M1 aggregate, which includes cash and current Belarusian ruble deposits with banks, expanded by 4.1% month on month in May 2020 to Br9.836 billion ($4.14bn) as of June 1, 2020. M1 aggregate accounted for 19.54% of broad money supply as of June 1, 2020 (21.18% as of Jan 1, 2020).

Ruble money supply (M2* aggregate), which includes M1 and fixed-period ruble securities outside bank circulation, expanded by 4.5% month on month in May 2020 to Br20.739 billion ($8.73bn). Ruble money supply accounted for 41.2% of broad money supply as of June 1, 2020 (39.93% as of May 1, 2020; 44.37% as of Jan 1, 2020).

Broad money supply grew by 12.2% in Jan-Dec 2019, cash in circulation increased by 23.9%, M1 aggregate – 19.3%, ruble money supply (M2* aggregate) – 27.4%.

Belarus’ broad money supply was expected to grow by 9-12% in 2019 (Dec 2019 on Dec 2018). End ($1/Br2.3748)

Friday forex session: ruble down 0.14% against dollar to Br2.3781/$1

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.3781/$1 to the dollar on June 12, down 0.14% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Friday, the ruble stood at Br2.689/€1 to the euro, up 0.43%; at Br3.4115/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.79%.

As previously reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

Brest relies on NB-IoT solution to remotely collect gas meter readings

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarus’ cellular carrier COOO MTS jointly with Brestoblgaz state company have started implementing an NB-IoT solution, which facilitates remote collection of gas meter readings.

The remote data collection and transmission system reduces maintenance costs of metering devices by replacing annual staff inspections with automatic collection. In addition, smart gas meters help reduce energy losses and monitor meter operation.

As previously reported, Brestoblgaz (a regional pipeline operator), Europribor (production innovations company) together with A1 – Belarusian provider of telecom, ICT and content services – have implemented a project aimed at digitalizing gas supply systems in Brest Oblast.

The project allows exercising remote monitoring of gas pipelines’ nodal points by means of Internet of Things solutions. As part of the project, new controllers for remote data collection, which operate in the network NB-IoT by A1, have been installed at 84 gas distribution points in Brest Oblast since Dec 2019. In addition, A1 also acted as a supplier of special SIM chips, which are used in this equipment instead of standard SIM cards.

The gas supply system needs gas control point telemetry controllers to monitor the level of inlet and outlet pressure of gas in the network in order to keep it constant regardless of consumption.

 The new equipment will make it possible to control their normal operation, as well as to send emergency messages about the output of inlet and outlet gas pressure outside the set range, temperature, triggering of security and safety devices, etc.

In total, they plan to upgrade about 570 similar objects in Brest Oblast in the framework of the project.

MTS was registered in Belarus on April 4, 2002. The operator is a joint venture between Russia’s largest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Belarus’ Beltelecom operator. The companies hold respective stakes of 49% and 51% in the joint venture.

MTS Belarus started providing GSM 900/1800 standard services in June 2002, launched 3G revenue service in May 2010, 4G revenue service in March 2015. MTS Belarus has around 5.7 million subscribers. End

Mobile diesel generator delivered to location of first unit of Belarusian nuclear power plant

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. A mobile diesel generator has been delivered to the location of the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, the Belarusian Energy Ministry said in a statement.

The mobile diesel generator complies with recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the national action plan compiled in the wake of stress tests of the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

The nuclear power plant design provides for plugging in a backup diesel generator in time of need. The diesel generator will be permanently on standby in the course of operation of the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. If need be, the generator will be able to make sure the safeguards of the first unit remain operational. End

Lukashenko orders to use local fuels more actively

MINSK, Jun 12 – PrimePress. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko instructed to use locally available fuels more actively. Lukashenko made a statement to this effect at the government session on housing and communal services in Polotsk on June 12.

He said that more peat, chips and sawdust should be used. “And we go around asking for natural gas and oil. This (local fuels) should be used, and Vitebsk Oblast has learned to do it. This experience should be scaled up to cover the entire country, because we have enough dying wood,” said Lukashenko. End

In Belarus, the share of local fuels in the gross consumption of fuel and energy resources, including renewable energy, amounted to 23% in 2019.