Federal Reserve Chairman held a call in January with two Russians who posed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing a video shown on Russian state television.
A Federal Reserve spokesperson told Bloomberg that Powell had participated in a conversation with “with someone who misrepresented himself as the Ukrainian president.” The spokesperson described the call as a “friendly conversation” and said no sensitive or confidential information was discussed.
The matter has been referred to law enforcement, the Fed spokesperson added.
The two Russians behind the video were identified as Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, who use the nicknames Vovan and Lexus. They’re known for tricking foreign politicians into talking to them. Both are supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg said.
Earlier this year, the two also posted a video of a conversation with European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.
The ability of the two Russians to reach Powell is likely to raise concern about security at the U.S. central bank.
Regarding monetary policy, the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee meets next Tuesday and Wednesday to decide on whether to boost the Fed’s policy rate. Currently, the market is pricing in a 25-basis-point rate hike, bringing the federal funds rate target range to 5.0%-5.25%.
The recent banking stresses, though, may make a May rate hike a little less likely, Evercore ISI Vice Chair Krishna Guha said Wednesday.
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