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UK imposes sanctions on enablers accused of aiding Russian oligarchs | russia

UK imposes sanctions on enablers accused of aiding Russian oligarchs |  russia


The British government has imposed sanctions on financial fixers allegedly helping to hide the assets of Russian tycoons Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov.

The sanctions, announced by the foreign ministry on Wednesday, target officials they portray as helpers of an oligarch they accuse billionaire businessmen of knowingly supporting to protect their wealth.

Recent restrictions include asset freezes and travel bans on two Cyprus-based individuals suspected of providing services to Abramovich and Usmanov.

The move comes after the Guardians Oligarchic Files Project, which revealed in January that a trust holding billions of dollars in assets for Abramovich, former owner of Chelsea Football Club, was quickly reorganized shortly before sanctions were imposed on him. .

They are the latest asset freeze and travel ban imposed by Britain on close associates of Abramovich and Usmanov, who were sanctioned shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

Following the British announcement, the US Treasury Department announced broad restrictions on Usmanov’s associates and facilitators who were allegedly helping manage Usmanov’s financial interests.

British officials said the oligarchs had scrambled to protect their wealth, enlisting the help of financial fixers, offshore trusts, shell companies and even using their families in response to an unprecedented package of international sanctions.

According to leaked files seen by The Guardian, 10 of Abramovich’s secret offshore trusts were modified to transfer beneficial ownership to his seven children in the weeks of the invasion, which led to a flurry of changes made to protect the oligarch’s vast wealth. Questions have been raised. Asset freeze threat.

According to the documents, the sweeping reorganization was carried out by Demetris Ioannides and his company, which helped manage Abramovich’s financial interests for more than 20 years.

The UK has now imposed sanctions on Ioannides and the offshore service provider he runs, MeritServus HC Ltd. Ioannides was accused by British officials of fabricating the dark offshore structures that Abramovich used to hide more than 760 million assets before he was sanctioned.

British and EU officials have labeled Abramovich a pro-Kremlin oligarch and imposed sanctions on him last year for benefiting from his close relationship with Putin. Abramovich denied any financial ties to the Kremlin and took legal action to overturn the EU’s actions.

In the new package of actions, Whitehall officials focused on Russian metals tycoon Usmanov’s complicated financial holdings and imposed sanctions on the companies and associates associated with him.

This includes Cypriot lawyer Christodoulos Vassiliades, who is alleged to be at the center of a web of trusts and offshore companies linking Usmanov with Sutton Place, a Tudor mansion in Surrey.

Neither Ioannides nor Vassiliades responded to the Guardian’s request for comment.

Usmanov’s holding company, USM, said in a statement it plans to challenge the regulation. We believe that the sanctions adopted by the UK against USM and its shareholders are unjust and unfounded.

The new measures indicate that the UK government is ready to expand the Russian sanctions regime to include helpers it characterizes as professional advisors and intermediaries who facilitate sanctions evasion and related money laundering.

Last July, UK enforcement revealed that some sanctioned individuals were using enablers to distance themselves from their assets, for example by transferring ownership to trusted intermediaries such as family members.

The former U.S. sanctions enforcer said the legal mandate to target those who provide material assistance to sanctioned individuals has long existed, but the London and recent Washington authorities’ focus on professional helpers represents a new development.

Any info on this story? Email [email protected].

Former sanctions officials said given the oligarchy’s focus, this is the next step because of how these individuals rely heavily on networks of people in the service sector to access finance and the lives they want to live.

A recent series of measures imposed restrictions on family members and associates suspected of acting as agents of the oligarch under sanctions, including Putin’s ally Viktor Medvedchuk.

Announcing the move, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said the government was closing its net on the Russian elite and those who would help them hide money.




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