Former Luxembourg economy ministers Jeannot Krecké and Etienne Schneider on Sunday said that they have resigned from the boards of two Russian-owned companies. Krecké, who was economy minister under Jean-Claude Juncker’s premiership from 2004 to 2012, had been on the board of directors at Luxembourg-based East West United Bank. Schneider, who succeeded Krecké and resigned from government in February 2020, was in the board of EWUB’s conglomerate parent company, Sistema. Sistema is owned by Russian billionaire Vladimir Evtushenkov.
Both Krecké and Schneider had come under increasing public pressure to resign after Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, but had claimed that because neither company had faced official sanctions they were under no obligation to step down.
LSAP reluctant to criticise
On Friday, East West United Bank issued a statement saying that it would “continue to provide our customers with the highest level of service under the chairmanship of Jeannot Krecké”. The statement continued: “East-West United Bank is a standalone Luxembourgish Bank founded in 1974. We are not part of the Russian state or any banking group.”
The bank said it would continue to conduct business in full compliance with European banking rules and regulations under the scrutiny of Luxembourg regulator the CSSF and the Luxembourg Central Bank. Interestingly, the LSAP had not criticized their two former ministers, with parliamentary faction chief Yves Cructhen describing their continued membership of the boards as “unfortunate”.
But some opposition MPs, such as the Pirate Party’s Sven Clement were more vocal. He said via Twitter that “Etienne and Jeannot literally have blood on their hands!” and pointed out that AFK Sistema PAO delivers drones to the Russian army.
Even in a joint statement issued on Sunday announcing their resignation, they defended their hesitancy by saying they had “tried to live up to our responsibilities” on the respective boards “for the benefit of many of the employees concerned and their families in Luxembourg.”
Saying they hoped those “stabilization efforts” would bear fruit, Krecké and Schneider then wrote that they had informed their main shareholder that they would be relinquishing their functions to the respective board of directors.
They also added that they hoped the “unacceptable and cruel war” in Ukraine will soon end and that the people will find peace again.