US sanctions imposed on Russian bank, oligarchs and crypto miner BitRiver

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(Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on dozens of people and entities, including a Russian commercial bank and a virtual currency mining company, hoping to target Moscow’s circumvention of existing sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department says it has named a virtual currency mining company for the first time, alongside more than 40 people, and entities headed by US-appointed Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.

“The Treasury can and will target those who evade, attempt to evade, or help evade U.S. sanctions on Russia because they help support Putin’s brutal war of choice,” said Brian Nelson, Undersecretary of the Treasury. in charge of terrorism and financial intelligence. A declaration.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States and its allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, including targeting the country’s biggest lenders and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday’s decision targets Russia’s virtual currency mining industry, believed to be the third largest in the world, sanctioning the holding company of Moscow-based bitcoin miner BitRiver, which operates a data center in Siberia, and 10 of the Russian subsidiaries of the holding company.

In a statement, Igor Runets, the founder and CEO of BitRiver, said his company “has never provided services to Russian government institutions and has not worked with clients already targeted by Washington sanctions.”

“These U.S. actions obviously must be seen as interference in the crypto mining industry, unfair competition, and an attempt to shift the global balance of power in favor of U.S. companies,” Runets said.

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on Russian commercial bank Transkapitalbank, whose representatives it said serve several banks in Asia, including China, and the Middle East, and suggested options to evade international sanctions.

Its subsidiary, Investtradebank, has also been named.

Wednesday’s action freezes all US assets of named individuals and generally bars Americans from doing business with them.

But Washington issued two general licenses linked to Transkapitalbank alongside the sanctions, authorizing the suspension of transactions with the bank until May 20 and certain transactions to or from Afghanistan until October 20 “in support of resolution efforts. of the humanitarian crisis”.

The United States has also imposed additional sanctions on Russian oligarch Mr. Malofeyev, whom US authorities have long accused of being a main source of funding for Russians advocating separatism in Crimea. It was first designated during the Obama administration in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice charged Mr Malofeyev with violating sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

“The United States will work to ensure that the sanctions we have imposed, in close coordination with our international partners, degrade the Kremlin’s ability to project power and finance its invasion,” Nelson said.

The US State Department is also imposing visa restrictions on more than 600 people in a bid to promote accountability for human rights abuses and violations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. , prohibiting them from traveling to the United States.

Three Russian officials have also been slapped with visa restrictions for “gross human rights violations” alongside 17 others slapped with restrictions on charges of undermining democracy in Belarus.

“We will use all tools to promote accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine,” Blinken said.

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