VTB denied doing business with the Syrian central bank.
VEB chairman Vladimir Dmitriyev said he had no knowledge of links to any Syrian companies. Gazprombank did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.
The defense industry source said al-Assad’s government has routed its payments through at least one smaller Russian bank, making the money harder to trace.
“The big Russian banks are not eager to work with Assad. There were some problems with payments because big Russian banks were scared of dealing with Assad,” he said. “But there were bank transfers. There may be VTB, VEB and Gazprombank, but there are also small banks and banks that are not based in Moscow.”
A second defense industry source confirmed the transactions were being made through smaller banks.