This is a pretty interesting piece from Bloomberg. Putin has authorized his central banker to do a big crackdown on the shoddy state of Russian banking which has been known for contributing to drain of foreign currency reserves, especially bothersome during sanctions on Russia. Of course her job is dicey, since Putin's authorization may have unexpected limits, depending on who owns which banks being looked at, how motivated the owners are to resist, and whether it's to Putin's advantage to have a bank rescued or closed and taken over. So far, so good since she's still alive. One of her predecessors was assassinated by a contract hit for $310k after a guy who owned four closed banks took exception to his loss of banking licenses. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/feat...ker-purges-100-banks-a-year-in-epic-crackdown Excerpt: Shortly before Nabiullina took over as central banker in the spring of 2013, her predecessor, Ignatiev, gave a valedictory interview to a local newspaper. He said a massive $49 billion in illicit flows sapped the economy of capital and much-needed tax payments and that more than half that amount was attributable to interconnected companies. “You get the impression that they are all controlled by a single, well-organized group,” he said, without identifying anyone. When Nabiullina took over, she was told about 150 banks were suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Capital was flooding out of the country at a rate of $60 billion a year. Almost half of that was pronounced “dubious” by the central bank. Nabiullina stepped up the pace of bank closures. In her first six months she shut down or took over more than 50. Most of the those closed were suspected of involvement in money laundering, she said later. Some were previously thought to be untouchable. One was Masterbank, a top-100 lender suspected by officials of being a prime player in the “black cash” trade, in which banks provide huge sums of money for illicit payments, often under the protection of the country’s security services. A person close to the central bank but not authorized to discuss internal matters says Nabiullina didn’t expect to set a precedent with the closure and didn’t fully realize its significance until this illicit market contracted sharply and costs shot up. Perhaps fittingly, given Russia’s reputation for corrupt business practices, the “black cash” trade carried on, according to several senior bankers. The banks just charged more for it. And, another: It might seem obvious, given the pace of the purge, that Nabiullina has Putin’s explicit blessing. “Nabiullina is a person of character, but there’s no way she could have taken such a tough line without the support of the head of state,” says Lebedev, the banker and former legislator. “The president gave her carte blanche.” But absolute certainty is a rare commodity in Russia. People familiar with the situation say that while Putin hasn’t publicly questioned her bank crackdown, he also hasn’t explicitly given her the kind of sweeping authority to close banks at will. That, these people say, leaves Nabiullina in a less than rock-solid position—one of confidence tinged with uncertainty about whether the next one she hits could prove too politically hot. Russia’s banking mess dates to the 1990s, when the country lurched toward capitalism. Banks proliferated by the hundreds, profiting from speculation in currency and other markets rather than the more solid foundation of lending. By the middle of the decade, the number of banks had peaked at more than 2,500. Many became conduits for illicit activity, funneling money offshore or into cash for off-the-books operations—including payoffs, clandestine political funding, and organized crime. The first major efforts to crack down on crime came in the early 2000s as Russia transitioned into the Putin era from the free-for-all for wealth under Boris Yeltsin. But progress was slow and resistance high.