US names list of rich Rus­sians close to Krem­lin

The New Age (Western Cape) - - Inside -

THE US Trea­sury named ma­jor Rus­sian busi­ness­men, in­clud­ing the heads of the coun­try’s two big­gest banks, met­als mag­nates and the state gas mo­nop­oly boss on an oli­garch’s list close to the Krem­lin.

The 210 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 96 oli­garchs with wealth of $1bn (R12bn) or more, was part of a sanc­tions pack­age signed into law last Au­gust. The doc­u­ment said it was not a sanc­tions list and that in­clu­sion should “in no way” be in­ter­preted to mean those named were likely to be sanc­tioned. Although it is un­clear what it will mean in prac­tice, it will cast the shadow of a po­ten­tial sanc­tions risk over many wealthy Rus­sians.

“Pub­li­ca­tion of such a wide list of ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one could po­ten­tially dam­age the im­age and rep­u­ta­tion of our firms, our busi­ness­men, our politi­cians and mem­bers of the lead­er­ship,” Krem­lin spokesper­son Dmitry Peskov, him­self in­cluded on the list, told reporters.

Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s in­ner cir­cle is al­ready sub­ject to per­sonal US sanc­tions im­posed be­cause of Rus­sia’s 2014 an­nex­a­tion of Ukraine’s Crimean re­gion, although Putin him­self is not on either list and nor is cen­tral bank chief Elvira Nabi­ul­lina.

The White House said on Mon­day it would not im­me­di­ately im­pose new sanc­tions on Rus­sia. The 2017 sanc­tions pack­age that led to the com­pi­la­tion of the “oli­garchs list” was prompted partly by Wash­ing­ton’s be­lief that Rus­sia med­dled in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The Krem­lin de­nies these al­le­ga­tions.

The list mir­rors a Forbes mag­a­zine rank­ing of Rus­sia’s wealth­i­est peo­ple pub­lished last year, which es­ti­mated the to­tal wealth of the oli­garchs listed at al­most $400bn.

A Western banker said: “If all these peo­ple were banned, 80% of deals with Rus­sian firms will stall.” – Reuters

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