US names list of rich Russians close to Kremlin
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