April 6 (UPI) — The Trump administration on Friday launched more sanctions against Russia, targeting 38 oligarchs, government officials and businesses for brazen behavior and attacks on Western democracy.
In what the White House called a national security issue, the sanctions are a response to “the Kremlin’s malign agenda,” ranging from cyberattacks to aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
On Friday’s sanctions list are seven Russian oligarchs and the 12 companies they own, 17 senior Russian government officials, a government-owned weapons trading company and its subsidiary bank. They are accused of money laundering, wiretapping, extortion, racketeering and tax evasion, the White House told reporters in a conference call.
“This sends a clear message that actions have consequences,” a senior administration official said.
The targets include Russian elites like Kirill Shamalov, identified as the husband of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter, who officials say received a loan of more than $1 billion from state-owned Gazprombank.
Others on the list include Oleg Deripaska, once named Russia’s richest man, and Suleiman Kerimov, a self made billionaire and major shareholder in a potash company who once was accused of abuse of power and working in a cartel for trading exports.
Any U.S. assets held by the sanctioned individuals will be frozen, and American citizens and organizations are barred from doing business with those on the blacklist.
White House officials made it clear the actions are not aimed at the Russian people.
“The door to dialogue is open. We seek a better relationship with Russia, and it will only happen when Russia stops its aggressive behavior,” the White House official said. “The individuals and companies will see the consequences in the near term and will have to adjust their plans in the future if Russia stays on its current course.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites.
“The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities,” Mnuchin said in a news release. “Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities.”
Here’s a rundown of the targets, as provided by the Treasury Department.
Designated Russian oligarchs:
Vladimir Bogdanov, director general and vice chairman of the board of directors of Surgutneftegaz, a vertically integrated oil company. The Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed prior sanctions on Surgutneftegaz in 2014.
Oleg Deripaska, a senior government official involved in the energy sector. Deripaska has said he does not separate himself from the Russian state. He has acknowledged possessing a Russian diplomatic passport and claims to have represented the Russian government in other countries. He has been investigated for money laundering and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official and taking part in extortion and racketeering. He has also been accused of bribing a government official, ordering the murder of a businessman and having links to a Russian organized crime group.
Suleiman Kerimov, a member of the Russian Federation Council. On November 20, 2017, he was detained in France, accused of bringing hundreds of millions of euros into the country — transporting as much as 20 million euros at a time in suitcases in addition to conducting more conventional funds transfers — without reporting the money to French tax authorities. Kerimov is accused of laundering the funds through the purchase of villas and of failing to pay 400 million euros in taxes related to villas.
Igor Rotenberg works in the government’s energy sector. He acquired significant assets from his father, Arkady Rotenberg, after OFAC designated the father as an oligarch in 2014. Arkady Rotenberg sold Igor Rotenberg 79 percent of the Russian oil and gas drilling company Gazprom Burenie. Igor Rotenberg’s uncle, Boris Rotenberg, owns 16 percent of the company. Like his brother Arkady Rotenberg, Boris Rotenberg was also put on the oligarchs list in 2014.
Kirill Shamalov works in Russia’s energy sector. Shamalov married Katerina Tikhonova, identified as Putin’s daughter, in February 2013 and his fortunes drastically improved. Within 18 months, he acquired a large portion of shares of Sibur, a Russia-based company involved in oil and gas exploration, production, processing and refining. A year later, he was able to borrow more than $1 billion through a loan from Gazprombank, a state-owned entity subject to sectoral sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13662. That same year, long-time Putin associate Gennady Timchenko, who is himself designated pursuant to E.O. 13661, sold an additional 17 percent of Sibur’s shares to Shamalov. Shortly thereafter, Kirill Shamalov joined the ranks of the billionaire elite around Putin.
Andrei Skoch, a deputy of the Duma. Skoch has longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups.
Viktor Vekselberg, founder and chairman of the board of the Renova Group, which is comprised of asset management companies and investment funds that own and manage assets in several sectors of the Russian economy, including energy. In 2016, Russian prosecutors raided Renova’s offices and arrested two associates of Vekselberg’s, including the company’s chief managing director and another top executive, for bribing officials connected to a power generation project in Russia.
Designated oligarch-owned companies:
Owned or controlled by Deripasaka or one of his companies — B-Finance Ltd., based in British Virgin Islands; Basic Element, Ltd., private investment and management company of his business interests; aluminum and power producer EN+ Group; EuroSibEnergo, one of the largest independent power companies in Russia; aluminum producer United Company RUSAL; Russian Machines, which manages the machinery assets of Basic Element; GAZ Group, Russia’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles; Agroholding Kuban;
Owned or controlled by Igor Rotenberg — Gazprom Burenie, which provides oil and gas exploration services; NPV Engineering Open Joint Stock Co., which provides management and consulting services..
Owned or controlled by Shamalov— Ladoga Menedzhment, which is engaged in deposit banking.
Owned or controlled by Vekselberg — Renova Group, which is comprised of investment funds and management companies operating in the energy sector, among others.
Designated Russian state-owned firms:
Rosoboroneksport, which is a state-owned weapons trading company with longstanding ties to the Syrian government and the Russian Financial Corp. Bank, which it owns.
Designated Russian government officials:
Andrey Akimov, chairman of the management board of state-owned Gazprombank.
Mikhail Fradkov, president of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a research center that provides information to government agencies.
Sergey Fursenko, a member of the board of directors of Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of state-owned Gazprom.
Oleg Govorun, head of the Presidential Directorate for Social and Economic Cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States Member countries.
Alexey Dyumin, governor of the Tula region of Russia who previously headed the Special Operations Forces, which played a key role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Vladimir Kolokoltsev, minister of Internal Affairs and General Police.
Konstantin Kosachev, chariman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Andrey Kostin, president, chairman of the management board and member of the Supervisory Council of state-owned VTB Bank.
Alexey Miller, chairman of the management committee and deputy chairman of the board of directors of state-owned Gazprom.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council.
Vladislav Reznik, member of the Russian State Duma.
Evgeniy Shkolov, aide to the president of the Russian Federation.
Alexander Torshin, state secretary, deputy governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Ustinov, envoy to Russia’s Southern Federal District.
Timur Valiulin, head of the general administration for combating extremism within Russia’s Ministry of Interior.
Alexander Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, the Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media.
Viktor Zolotov, director of the Federal Service of National Guard Troops and commander of the National Guard troops.