Indian companies are using the SWIFT global payment system to settle dollar payments with Russia, a top Indian trade official said on Wednesday.
Many Russian banks, including Sberbank and VTB, are blocked from the payments network due to Western sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Being blocked from SWIFT makes it harder for Russian companies to do business as the system underpins financial transactions globally.
“We are using SWIFT for dollar payments,” the official, who did not want to be named, said, when asked about the payment gateway being used for Russian payments.
The official did not give more details about the banks that Indian traders were using to make the dollar payments.
India’s trade and finance ministry did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Surging Russian imports
India’s imports from Russia have increased nearly five times in the April 2022 to February 2023 period, data released by the Indian government showed on Wednesday.
The country’s Russian imports climbed to $41.56 billion from $8.54 billion, compared with the same period the prior year.
Last month, data showed India’s Russian oil imports climbed to a record 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, up 9.2% from December. Moscow remained the top monthly oil seller to New Delhi, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
India has been using varied currencies to settle trade with Russia since the war in February last year.
“Payments happen in different currencies, including dollar, euros, dirham,” the country’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade Santosh Kumar Sarangi told reporters.
Indian refiners paid for most of their Russian oil purchased via Dubai-based traders in United Arab Emirates dirhams instead of US dollars.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena