Ex-US Congressman's Russian bank stripped of license

A small Russian bank owned by former U.S. congressman Charles Taylor was stripped of its license Friday after allegedly breaking anti-money laundering rules.

Russia's central bank said that Commercial Bank of Ivanovo committed "numerous" breaches of anti-money laundering regulations — including by providing "incomplete and unreliable information" about transactions — and inflated the value of its assets.

The central bank has appointed administrators and says more than 70 percent of CBI's lending was "low-quality loans."

Taylor, a Republican widely considered a hard-line conservative, was a congressman from North Carolina between 1991 and 2007.

Central bank records show Taylor owns more than 80 percent of CBI, a regional lender based in the textile-manufacturing city of Ivanovo, just over 150 miles (245 kilometers) north-east of Moscow.

In a brief statement, CBI confirmed the loss of its license and directed deposit-holders to a government-run deposit insurance scheme. It didn't comment on the accusations made by the central bank. Taylor could not immediately be reached for comment.

Taylor bought CBI in 2003 alongside his business partner Boris Bolshakov, a former KGB agent and Supreme Soviet deputy who is listed as the bank's second-largest shareholder.

In 2003, two of Taylor's political associates testified that the congressman knew about fraudulent loans made by Asheville-based Blue Ridge Savings Bank, which he owned at the time, to a political supporter. Taylor denied any knowledge of the loans.

During his time in congress, Taylor was a strident backer of student exchange programs with Russia. When Democrat Heath Shuler defeated Taylor in the 2006 election, his campaign said Taylor's Russian ties were a distraction from working for North Carolina voters.