US imposes more penalties on Russia’s financial sector

Dec 14, 2022, 7:26 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 9:37 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Thursday imposed a new round of financial penalties on people and entities involved in Russia’s financial sector, with the targets including one of that country’s richest men, Vladimir Potanin, his family and a commercial bank he acquired this year.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also imposed sanctions on more than 40 people linked to the Russian financial sector and 17 subsidiaries of VTB Bank Public Joint Stock Company — also known as VTB Bank — Russia’s second largest bank. VTB Bank was designated for sanctions in February.

The State Department issued separate diplomatic designations on the people and companies.

Western nations and other allies have imposed a range of penalties meant to crush Russia’s finances due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Central Bank faces restrictions that target access to the more than $600 billion in reserves that the Kremlin has at its disposal. Allied countries have blocked financial transactions with Russia’s Central Bank that involve gold.

The country has also been disconnected from the SWIFT financial messaging system, which daily moves countless billions of dollars around more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions around the world. Countless banks have been blocked, including Sberbank, which holds one-third of all bank assets in Russia.

Potanin also served as Russia’s deputy prime minister. He, his wife, adult children and a yacht named Nirvana were designated for sanctions, as well as was Rosbank, a Russia-based commercial bank that Potanin acquired in 2022.

Russia’s Central Bank considers Rosbank to be a systemically important credit institution, according to theTreasury. The United Kingdom and Canada designated Rosbank earlier this year.

“The United States continues to impose costs on Russia for its war of aggression against Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “Russia’s attacks have devastated Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and caused extraordinary death and destruction.”

The sanctions and designations deny the people and companies access to any property or financial assets held in the U.S., and the ability to travel to the U.S.

“By sanctioning additional major Russian banks, we continue to deepen Russia’s isolation from global markets,” said Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“Today’s designations by the United States, together with actions taken by our international partners, will further inhibit the Putin regime’s ability to fund its horrific war against Ukraine.”

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US imposes more penalties on Russia’s financial sector