Stealing from Sberbank
The world learned earlier this week that employees of Russia’s beleaguered state-owned national bank, Sberbank, had plundered their own company (and country) to the tune of nearly 200 million dollars. Strange to say, the most outrageous feature of this story is that we don’t know whether we should believe it.
It certainly smells fishy. Sberbank admitted that it caught the robbers back in March, and Sberbank is a publicly traded company — indeed, one of the most prominent on the Russia big board. How could this information have been concealed for so long? Is it possible that the government is attempting to conceal this disaster from the public in order to avoid fanning the flames of its banking crisis? Could it be lying, even now, about the extent of the fraud? What else isn’t it telling investors about the Russian market?
Disturbing as those questions are, here’s an even more horrifying prospect: What if there wasn’t any fraud at all? What if things are so bad at Sberbank (put the bank’s name into our search engine to reveal our shocking prior reports about the bank’s pathetic recent operating results) that the government needs a scapegoat, and it’s inventing this fraud to take our attention off the Kremlin’s outrageous mismanagement of it’s own bank?
Vladimir Putin recently lambasted Russia’s airplane manfucturing sector for its wretched performance, crazily claiming the Kremlin might cut off investment even as he announced massive new injections of capital. Putin has blamed the police in Ingushetia for causing their own fatalities by failing to meet the threat of terrorism appropriately in response to the recent bombing in Nazran. Mr. Putin ought to look in the mirror. His total failure to guide Sberbank through the economic crisis ought to lead him to immediately resign.