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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Banks Ordered to Accept Torn, Dirty Notes

The Russian Central Bank has sent a letter to Moscow's commercial banks, telling them to accept dollars and other hard-currency notes, even if they are old and worn.

The bank's Moscow branch sent the letter after a rise in complaints about commercial banks who under various pretexts, refuse to accept hard-currency bills, "On the grounds that the notes are slightly torn or not the right year and so on", the letter said.

Having a store refuse to accept old dollar bills is high on the list of petty annoyances for hard-currency holders in Moscow. But stores say they have no choice because commercial banks refuse to accept old notes or else ask for high commissions to "launder" the old bills. "All I can say to annoyed customers is 'You have to realize what kind of country you are in'", said Vadim Kokorev, a spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Central Bank.

In its letter, the bank said that commercial banks had to accept old and worn bank notes on the grounds that stores were required by law to, deposit all of their earnings into a bank account.

But the Central Bank's ability to control the flow of foreign currency is limited and it clearly expects that many banks will still refuse to accept old notes.

In its letter, the bank suggested that stores sign agreements on accepting old bank notes with their banks and then, if their banks still refuse, they should take them to court.

It continues, "If the bank shows complete lack of interest in attracting new clients, you should stop dealing with it and tell all your acquaintances and business contacts about these bizarre banks".

Moscow's 1, 000 licensed hard-currency sales points may be slow to respond. At the Arbat Irish House Food Store a sign in front of every cash register reads, "We regret that due to bank regulations, we cannot accept notes in poor condition".

Alexei Kondakov, a manager at the Arbat Irish House, said, "We know the notes are valid money, but our banks reject them for some reason. We stopped taking damaged dollar notes as well as those issued before 1950 about six months ago".