US sanctions gold firms connected to Russian Wagner mercenary group
Jun 27, 2023, 12:31 PM
(AP Photo, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four firms and one individual connected to the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenaries that led a brief revolt against the Kremlin last week.
The sanctions from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted entities in the Central African Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Russia that were connected to the Wagner Group and its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The sanctions are not directly related to last week’s uprising. The U.S. has previously issued sanctions against Prigozhin and the Wagner Group multiple times, including alleging that he tried to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.
Diamville SAU and Midas Ressources SARLU, two mining firms based in the Central African Republic and connected to Prigozhin, were targeted for sanctions, along with Russia-based Limited Liability Company DM, which conducted gold sales, and Dubai-based Industrial Resources General Trading, which provided support to Diamville.
The U.S. also sanctioned Andrei Ivanov, a Russian executive in the Wagner Group. Treasury says Ivanov worked with Malian government officials on weapons deals, mining projects, and other Wagner Group activities in Mali.
Treasury says the sanctioned firms engaged in illicit gold deals to fund the Wagner Group so it could sustain and expand its armed forces in Ukraine and Africa.
“The Wagner Group funds its brutal operations in part by exploiting natural resources in countries like the Central African Republic and Mali,” said Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence. “The United States will continue to target the Wagner Group’s revenue streams to degrade its expansion and violence in Africa, Ukraine, and anywhere else.”
Several other U.S. government agencies issued new advisories Tuesday focused on the gold trade across sub-Saharan Africa.
The Wagner Group mounted a short-lived armed rebellion against the Russian government, before Progozhin agreed to flee to neighboring Belarus, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian authorities said Tuesday they have closed a criminal investigation into the uprising and are not pressing an armed rebellion charge against Prigozhin.