Citigroup Inc., which has billions in assets and thousands of staff in Russia, said it would cut back on "much of its business" with Russia, Bloomberg reported.
Additionally, big banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Deutsche Bank AG are all heading for the exits, as a horde of lawyers and professionals follow in tow.
For the finance industry, the risks of miscalculation equate to billions. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, some dozen lenders from Raiffeisen Bank International AG to Citigroup to Deutsche Bank all have about $100 billion of combined exposure in Russia. However, firms have stressed their balance sheets can take the hit from their Russian business dealings.
Bill Browder, one of Russia's largest foreign investors who turned into a Vladimir Putin critic, says investment banks played an essential role in opening up Russia and carrying its money to the rest of the world.
"They made the oligarchs all look legitimate enough for western investors to throw billions of dollars at these companies and their owners," Browder said.
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