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Politics and Government

Colorado’s former governor resigns from board of Russian bank

Bill Owens stepped down from his position with the Credit Bank of Moscow on Sunday, saying he stands with Ukraine

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens talks about water issues at the Capitol in Denver Thursday, June 5, 2003.(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
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Former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has resigned from the supervisory board of one of Russia’s largest banks. 

The Republican told The Colorado Sun that he formally resigned from his position in an email sent Sunday but that he “made the decision several days ago.” He said he needed to delay his announcement until he had spoken to each board member.

Owens was chairman of the supervisory board for the Credit Bank of Moscow, which is investor-owned. He had been on the supervisory board since November 2012 and has been chairman since April 2013.

“Each of you receiving this is truly like family — together, over the past ten years, we have worked as one to build Russia’s finest bank through a commitment to honesty, transparency and good governance,” Owens wrote in his resignation email, which he shared with The Sun. “But now — due to decisions made by others which none of us either expected or support — it is time for me to step down and stand instead with my country and Ukraine. It has truly been my honor to serve with you and to be able to continue to call each of you my close and personal friend.”

Owens, who was Colorado’s governor from 1999 to 2007, told The Sun on Friday that he would resign from the board if the U.S. were to sanction the Credit Bank of Moscow. The bank was never sanctioned, but Owens stepped down anyway.

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration last week issued sanctions against state-owned banks and financial institutions in Russia, including Sberbank, VTB Bank, Bank Otkritie, Sovcombank OJSC and Novikombank. While Credit Bank of Moscow wasn’t among the banks on the formal sanctions list, it was named one of “13 of the most critical major Russian enterprises and entities” and slapped by the White House with new debt and equity restrictions.

The restrictions mean the Credit Bank of Moscow is barred from issuing shares and debt in the U.S.

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In addition to his work for the Credit Bank of Moscow, Owens is a senior director at the law firm GreenbergTraurig, where his areas of focus include public policy, energy and Russia. His bio at the firm says he “has been actively involved in the Soviet Union and Russia since the 1980s.”

Owens told The Sun last week that he was disappointed by President Joe Biden’s “relatively mild sanctions” against Russia after the invasion, “though I understand he was apparently constrained by some of our allies.”

“Ukraine is a free and independent nation which was brutally attacked in an unprovoked way by Russia,” Owens said. “I believe the U.S. and our allies should stand for Ukraine, as they stand for us all.”


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