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Szijjarto: Government wants guarantee that OTP not returned to International Sponsors of War list

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday that a decision by Ukraine to remove OTP from the International Sponsors of War list was "a step in the right direction", but the government wants a guarantee that the bank will not be returned to the list.

Szijjarto told the press that he had invited representatives of Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) to discuss the matter.

Answering a question at a joint press conference on a different subject held with his Moldovan counterpart, Szijjarto said in that the removal of OTP from the list was a welcome move but it also showed that the NACP had essentially admitted that the bank had been put on the list for “unfounded, deceitful and laughable” reasons.

He said it was an unfounded claim that OTP was a decisive player in Russia’s banking system when the bank’s market share there was only 0.17 percent. The claim that OTP was operating in Donetsk “belonged to the category of laughable” considering that it had a branch in a town with the same name in Russia but several hundred kilometres from the Ukraine border, he added.

“So, all the four reasons that the Ukrainian agency named were deceitful, laughable and unfounded claims…” he said.

At the same time, OTP may very well end up returning to the list, and this remains a cause for concern, he added.

“That’s why we’ve asked the Ukrainian ambassador … to bring an NACP delegation to Budapest as soon as possible to negotiate an agreement that can serve as a guarantee that this kind of decision will not be taken in future,” he added.

“If satisfactory agreement is reached we must naturally weigh what steps are justified to take on our part,” he said.

Szijjarto added that NACP also maintained a list of proposed sanctions and this still included OTP’s Russian unit and four Hungarian bankers.

“We expect that the four OTP leaders and the Russian unit also to be removed from the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency’s list,” he added.

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