RBC: US sanctions will deprive Belarus of access to dollars due to government debt restrictions , since American correspondent banks will stop servicing these transactions, Brian O'Toole, a former senior adviser to the sanctions division of the US Treasury Department of the US Treasury, told RBC.
The US Treasury has introduced the fifth package of sanctions against Belarus. The country will be left without dollars due to government debt restrictions. According to the text of the directive, American citizens and organizations are prohibited from “all transactions with a new debt of more than 90 days issued on or after December 2, 2021, including provision of funding and other transactions.”
The new measures could deal a tangible blow to the heavily dollarized Belarusian economy, since the country's Ministry of Finance issues mainly domestic debt in foreign currencies – about 60 percent of bonds are denominated in dollars. The Development Bank, which lends money to national projects, has another 115 million dollar bonds in circulation.
The presidential elections and the associated massive protests in 2020 closed the western debt markets of Belarus, and the buyers on the domestic market are mainly residents of the country. Nevertheless, the placement of bonds, their redemption and payment of income on them are carried out in the currency of the face value, that is, most often in dollars. Any electronic dollar payment in the world goes through an American correspondent bank. “Given that Americans are prohibited from any operations with the new debt of the Belarusian Ministry of Finance, I think that clearing of debt transactions will also be prohibited,” O'Toole said.
In the summer of 2021, the Belarusian bank Absolutbank lost the ability to service Visa cards and use the Western Union system due to US sanctions. The organization stopped transfers of funds in foreign currency, except for Russian rubles and transfers to accounts in resident banks.