US imposes fresh Russian sanctions, Deripaska hit hardest
The US Department of Treasury has released an update to the sanctions against Russia, with seven Russian tycoons, 12 major companies and 17 government officials added to the Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN List).
The most notable names on the list are oligarch Oleg Deripaska, Federation Council member and businessman Suleiman Kerimov, metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, son of oligarch Igor Rotenberg, the head of oil company Surgutneftegas Vladimir Bogdanov, the head of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprombank Andrey Akimov, and the head of Russia's largest state-controlled bank VTB Andrei Kostin.
“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on April 6.
Mnuchin added that Russians “who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities.”
Deripaska's businesses have been hit the hardest, with Basic Element and En+ majors added to the list, along with GAZ Group carmaker, Russian Machines, Eurosibenergo electric utility, Agroholding Kuban, B-Finance subsidiary, and one of world's largest aluminium producers Rusal.
Deripaska was previously linked to Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, currently under investigation of possible collusion with Russia in the 2017 presidential elections.
Gazprom Burenie, a drilling and exploration subsidiary of Gazprom is added to the list. Gazprom, that is pushing forward its Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Europe, has not previously been directly sanctioned by the US. Investment vehicle of Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg has also been added to the SDN List.
Sanctioned companies include weapons export agency Rosoboronexport and its financial arm Russian Financial Corporation Bank.
In January the US Treasury published the controversial Kremlin List, which was shrugged off by the market and widely criticized as 'one size fits all' document copy-pasted from the rankings of Russia's richest published by Forbes magazine.
However, now actual targeted personal sanctions for some of the 210 oligarchs that appeared on the Kremlin List could bring about a second wave of agitation in the Russian business elite.
"Today's sanctions are basically an addition to the SDN List which means that US entities are prohibited from any dealings with these persons & companies," BCS Global Markets chief economist Vladimir Tikhomirov commented on April 6, adding that in practice sanctioned entities will not be able to use US dollar accounts, make transfers in US dollars, or enter into any contracts with US firms.
"However, Treasury was careful NOT to include into these latest sanctions companies like Gazprom, Rosneft or VTB because if it did that could pose big problems for the Europeans and could trigger counter-reaction from EU," Tikhomirov notes.
The BCS GM analyst believes that the effect on the market from these sanctions is likely to be fairly limited, as it does not increase risks to the traded companies.
However, from a political perspective the latest sanctions boosts Russia-related risks, although the actual effect that this move will have on investors that still own Russia assets is yet to be seen, argues Tikhomirov.
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