US targets Russia president's inner circle with sanctions; accuses Putin of corruption

By bne IntelliNews March 21, 2014

bne -

The US government targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle in a fresh sanctions list released on March 20, which was followed by the EU adding to its list too. In a separate statement, the US Treasury Department accused Putin directly of corruption.

President Obama on March 20 said the new sanctions against Russians subject the people on the list to travel restrictions and assets in the US will be frozen. Several of the names on the list are big hitters in Russia's political scene.

Vladimir Yakunin is the current chairman of Russian Railways (RZD) and has been overseeing the state investments of some $30bn a year since 2008. He is erudite and had a diplomatic career representing Russia in Brussels. Thought to be a close friend of Putin's, he is from the "St Petersburg circle" and is tipped as a possible future replacement for Putin as president.

He has also been accused of massive corruption by opposition blogger Alexei Navalny, who released pictures reportedly of Yankunin's palatial home outside of Moscow.

Sergei Ivanov is even more senior. A former minister of defence and current head of the presidential administration, he is an all-round political heavyweight. Ivanov nearly became president in 2008 as the main rival to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He is probably Putin's closest friend in power and the eminence grise behind the throne.

The US has also targeted a troika of businessmen that have all become multi-billionaires thanks to their close ties with Putin.

The Rotenberg brothers, Arkady and Boris, were members of Putin's judo dojo back in the old days, but now run a business empire that is worth billions of dollars and regularly wins lucrative state-sponsored work, such as the development projects for the Sochi Olympics.

Likewise, Gennady Timchenko set up an oil trading company Gunvor that went from nowhere to become one of the biggest commodity traders in the world.

The US Treasury Department accused Putin of financially benefiting from investments in Gunvor. "Putin has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds," the Treasury Department said in a statement issued March 20 on its website.

Gunvor quickly and categorically denied the ties: "President Putin has not and never has had any ownership, beneficial or otherwise in Gunvor. He is not a beneficiary of Gunvor or its activities. Any understanding otherwise is fundamentally misinformed and outrageous," Gunvor was reported by Reuters as saying.

Still, Gunvor has had something of a charmed life and sources most of its oil from the state-owned Rosneft oil company that is run by another Putin ally Igor Sechin, who is notable for the absence of his name from the US sanctions list.

Highlighting the pace of change at the moment, before the day was finished Timshenko dropped a small bomb of his own on the market by announcing he was selling his stake in the trading house to his long-time partner Torbjorn Törnqvist, "to ensure with certainty the continued and uninterrupted operations of Gunvor Group Ltd's activities."

Other men that could have been there but are not include: Alexei Miller, CEO of Gazprom; German Gref, CEO of Sberbank; and Igor Kostin, CEO of VTB bank. Attacking these men and their companies is harder, as all four companies are listed on international stock markets and foreign investors are heavily exposed to both their stocks and their business.

Both Yury Kovalchuk and the bank he founded Bank Rossia were also included on the list. Bank Rossia has $10bn in assets and is believed by the US to be used by senior members of the Russian government as their main instrument for moving their personal money about. The ban on Bank Rossia is clearly an attempt to strike at the elite's wealth.

Russia's Foreign Ministry responded to the US list almost immediately and said it would "hit the US like a boomerang." The Russian Duma had their own list of Americans that will now be barred from Russia ready that includes John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives, Robert Menendez, head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, senators John McCain and Harry Reid and several administration officials.

The EU is next up and added another dozen names to the list at a summit on March 21. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the individuals on the list represent top officials in the Russian government, Interfax reported. This brings the total number of Russians and Crimeans targeted by the EU in the response to the crisis to 33.

"If the first wave of EU sanctions was greeted with mirth in Moscow, the second will be greeted with outright hilarity. Jon Stewart from the Daily Show must be quaking in his boots now with fear that the Russians might enact retaliatory sanctions. You kind of have to ask yourself why the EU would bother wasting their time debating such a narrow list. If they are not going to do anything, then why waste their time on this kind of stuff - as Von Rompuy said today, its all about the economy," said Tim Ash in a note to clients.

While agreeing to expand the list to include figures closer to Putin would be a step forward, it is a long way short of the powerful financial and trade sanctions diplomats and analysts say are needed to make Moscow pay attention. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a discussion of financial sanctions - what the EU refers to as phase three of its response - would take place at the summit, but no agreement on imposing the measures is expected.


America's Office Of Foreign Assets Control released the following list of Russian citizens under sanction.

Not only will any property of cash held in the US by these people now be seized but it has also become illegal to do any sort of business with them personally (but not the company?s they represent).

BUSHMIN, Evgeni Viktorovich

(a.k.a. BUSHMIN, Evgeny; a.k.a. BUSHMIN, Yevgeny); DOB 10 Oct 1958; POB Lopatino, Sergachiisky Region, Russia; Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation; Chairman of the Council of the Federation Budget and Financial Markets Committee (individual) [UKRAINE2].

DZHABAROV, Vladimir Michailovich; DOB 29 Sep 1952; First Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2].

FURSENKO, Andrei Alexandrovich

(a.k.a. FURSENKO, Andrei; a.k.a. FURSENKO, Andrey); DOB 17 Jul 1949; POB St. Petersburg, Russia; Aide to the President of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2].

GROMOV, Alexei;

DOB 1960; POB Zagorsk (Sergiev, Posad), Moscow Region, Russia; First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office; First Deputy Head of Presidential Administration; First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff (individual) [UKRAINE2].

IVANOV, Sergei

(a.k.a. IVANOV, Sergey); DOB 31 Jan 1953; POB St. Petersburg, Russia; Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office (individual) [UKRAINE2].

IVANOV, Victor Petrovich

(a.k.a. IVANOV, Viktor); DOB 12 May 1950; alt. DOB 1952; POB Novgorod, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2].

KOHZIN, Vladimir Igorevich;

DOB 28 Feb 1959; POB Troitsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2].

KOVALCHUK, Yuri Valentinovich

(a.k.a. KOVALCHUK, Yury Valentinovich); DOB 25 Jul 1951; POB Saint Petersburg, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2], who owns Bank Rossia.

MIRONOV, Sergei Mikhailovich

(a.k.a. MIRONOV, Sergei); DOB 14 Feb 1953; POB Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, Russia; Member of the Council of the State Duma; Leader of A Just Russia Party; Member of the State Duma Committee on Housing Policy and Housing and Communal Services (individual) [UKRAINE2].

NARYSHKIN, Sergey Yevgenyevich

(a.k.a. NARYSHKIN, Sergei); DOB 27 Oct 1954; POB Saint Petersburg, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2].

OZEROV, Viktor Alekseevich

(a.k.a. OZEROV, Viktor Alexeyevich); DOB 05 Jan 1958; POB Abakan, Khakassia, Russia; Chairman of the Security and Defense Federation Council of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2].

PANTELEEV, Oleg Evgenevich

(a.k.a. PANTELEEV, Oleg); DOB 21 Jul 1952; POB Zhitnikovskoe, Kurgan Region, Russia; First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Parliamentary Issues (individual) [UKRAINE2].


DOB 15 Dec 1951; POB St. Petersburg, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2].


DOB 03 Jan 1957; POB St. Petersburg, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2].

RYZHKOV, Nikolai Ivanovich

(a.k.a. RYZHKOV, Nikolai); DOB 28 Sep 1929; POB Duleevka, Donetsk Region, Ukraine; Senator in the Russian Upper House of Parliament; Member of the Committee for Federal Issues, Regional Politics and the North of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2].

SERGUN, Igor Dmitrievich;

DOB 28 Mar 1957; Lieutenant General; Chief of the Main Directorate of the General Staff (GRU); Deputy Chief of the General Staff (individual) [UKRAINE2].


(a.k.a. TIMCHENKO, Gennadiy Nikolayevich; a.k.a. TIMCHENKO, Gennady Nikolayevich; a.k.a. TIMTCHENKO, Guennadi), Geneva, Switzerland; DOB 09 Nov 1952; POB Leninakan, Armenia; alt. POB Gyumri, Armenia; nationality Finland; alt. nationality Russia; alt. nationality Armenia (individual) [UKRAINE2].

TOTOONOV, Aleksandr Borisovich

(a.k.a. TOTOONOV, Alexander; a.k.a. TOTOONOV, Alexander B.); DOB 03 Mar 1957; POB Ordzhonikidze, North Ossetia, Russia; alt. POB Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Russia; Member of the Committee on Culture, Science, and Information, Federation Council of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2].

YAKUNIN, Vladimir;

DOB 30 Jun 1948; POB Vladimir Oblast, Russia (individual) [UKRAINE2].

ZHELEZNYAK, Sergei Vladimirovich

(a.k.a. ZHELEZNYAK, Sergei; a.k.a. ZHELEZNYAK, Sergey); DOB 30 Jul 1970; POB Saint Petersburg, Russia; Deputy Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2].

The following entity has been added to OFAC's SDN List:

BANK ROSSIYA (f.k.a. AKTSIONERNY BANK RUSSIAN FEDERATION), 2 Liter A Pl. Rastrelli, Saint Petersburg 191124, Russia; SWIFT/BIC ROSY RU 2P; Website; Email Address [UKRAINE2].

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