Ukraine prime minister denounces central bank ban on currency trade

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk denounced the central bank on Wednesday for banning most foreign currency trading for the rest of the week, saying the move was taken without consultation with the government and would harm the economy.

Yatseniuk said he and Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko would seek an urgent meeting with President Petro Poroshenko and ask him to summon Central Bank head Valeria Gontareva to explain.

"This morning I found out on the Internet that the central bank had independently and without consultation taken the decision to close the interbank market, which does not add to stability in the national currency," Yatseniuk told a televised cabinet meeting.

"This situation has a very complicated and negative effect on the economy of Ukraine, the balance of the financial system and the currency exchange rate."

The central bank announced a ban until the end of the week on banks trading foreign currency on behalf of clients, which accounts for nearly all of the officially registered trade.

Banks are still permitted to trade with each other on their own accounts. After reporting no official trades at all in the morning, the central bank reported two trades in the early afternoon worth just $170,000.

The trades took place at a rate of 24.00 to the dollar, far stronger than Tuesday's close of 31.63, but the small volume gives little indication of the currency's actual value in the suspended market.

The currency fell 11.1 percent on Tuesday and has lost more than half of its value already this year after halving during the whole of 2014.

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