Bank executives assure Biden they can handle 'turbulence' from Russia sanctions

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Major New York banks have held talks with the White House about Russian assets and oligarchs regarding how they might carry out sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine. 

Bank executives have told FOX Business that they can handle the turbulence that may result from Russia cutting back oil production in the face of sanctions. 

President Biden met with banking leaders over the past month to discuss the risks involved with sanctioning Russia – specifically looking at market turbulence and possible reprisals from Russia. 

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In this Sept. 15, 2016, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, joins businessman and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg during to a visit to the construction site of the Kerch Strait bridge in Kerch, Crimea. 

One major concern that emerged focused on big hedge fund exposure to Russian debt, particularly related to oil prices. Russia maintains significant exports of oil and gas to Europe and China, with Turkey and Belarus the largest non-European importers of Russian natural gas. 

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The banking sector is therefore concerned about the "shocks" to the market should Russia cut back oil production in reaction to sanctions, impacting bank and hedge fund balance sheets that have heavily invested in the energy sector. 

But bank executives have said that everything is on the table for possible sanctions, which could target Russian companies or private individuals – mainly the oligarchs, the business leaders that rapidly accumulated wealth during the era of privatization that erupted following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

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The Trump administration in 2018 released a list of some 114 politicians and 96 such oligarchs who flourished during Putin’s reign. 

Sanctions would most likely target the oligarchs, who generate and hold most of the wealth in the country and likely help keep Putin himself at such an elevated level of prosperity. Various outlets have attempted to pinpoint the Russian leader’s net worth, but no one can properly track his assets and wealth. 

Hitting his business leaders, and crippling their own access to wealth, will provide the easiest method of hitting Putin himself should he authorize an invasion of Ukraine and invite sanctions.

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And the U.K. will also look to hit Russia with sanctions: Britain has already made clear it will look to target oligarchs and their U.K. holdings, even as some lawyers and anti-corruption campaigners within the country question its ability to enforce such measures, the Financial Times reported. 

Fox News’ Charles Gasparino contributed to this report. 

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