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US sanctions several Russian officials and entities, including oligarch linked to former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort

  • The Trump administration unveils new actions against Russian officials, oligarchs, businesses and agencies — freezing assets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
  • One of those named is Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with links to former Trump campaign boss Paul Manfort, who has been charged in Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
  • In all, the Treasury Department sanctioned seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they control, along with 17 top Russian officials, a state-owned weapons-trading company and a subsidiary bank.

The Trump administration on Friday unveiled new actions against Russian officials, oligarchs, businesses and agencies — freezing assets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

One of those named is Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with links to former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort, who has been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

"There is no question that this activity goes after a number of individuals and entities surrounding the Kremlin regime, and this will be noticed far and wide," a senior administration official said Friday. speaking on condition of anonymity.

In all, the Treasury Department, after consulting with the State Department, sanctioned seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they control, plus 17 top Russian officials, a state-owned weapons-trading company and a subsidiary bank.

Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, described the action as baseless and unfriendly, Interfax news agency reported.

Another key name sanctioned: Kirill Shamalov. According to the Treasury Department, "his fortunes drastically improved" after he married Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, in February 2013.

Oleg Deripaska
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Oleg Deripaska

A senior administration official said that the "significance and scale of these steps" will have a profound impact on the Russian economy.

"This is a large number of senior officials and oligarchs, many of whom are in the inner circle of Vladimir Putin and many of whom are facing sanctions for the first time as well as the state-owned enterprises," the official said. "I think the individuals and companies in question will see the consequences of this in the near term."

The official called the administration's latest move a "consequence for Russia's actions" and said the designations were carried out in close coordination with U.S. allies.

"The Russian government chose to destabilize Europe through military pressure, malicious cyberactivities and malign influence across numerous countries. It chose to prop up the Assad regime [in Syria], a regime that kills little kids with chemical weapons. It continues to subvert Western democracy," the official said. "Today's actions are the result of Russian government decisions."

Similarily, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a release, "Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government's destabilizing activities."

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Pavel Golovkin | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin

The latest sanctions come as President Donald Trump's relationship with Putin is under greater scrutiny since the American leader congratulated the Russian president for his landslide election victory last month. Putin critics have said the election was rigged, and, reportedly, Trump advisors told him not to congratulate his Russian counterpart.

The U.S. also ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian agents last month in response to the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.

There were reports earlier this week that said a new round of sanctions could be on the way. Last month, the Treasury Department issued sanctions for 19 people and five entities, including Russian intelligence agencies, for cyberattacks over the past two years.

The Trump administration said it has designated 189 Russian related individuals and entities to date.

The Manafort connection

Paul Manafort, former advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign.
Getty Images
Paul Manafort, former advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign.

Of the 12 companies hit with sanctions in Friday's action, the Treasury Department said seven are either controlled or owned by Deripaska, the billionaire who emerged as a central figure in the U.S. probe of possible election interference by the Kremlin and its associates.

Manafort, who ran Trump's campaign for a few months in 2016, had reportedly offered to brief Deripaska on the campaign. Manafort was Trump's campaign chief at the time he sent emails making the offer.

Manafort had also reportedly done business with Deripaska in the past.

The Treasury Department, in unveiling its sanctions, described the Russian businessman in ominous terms.

"Deripaska has said that he does not separate himself from the Russian state. He has also acknowledged possessing a Russian diplomatic passport, and claims to have represented the Russian government in other countries," the announcement said. It continued:

Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering. There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.

The special counsel is investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. The president has repeatedly denied his campaign colluded with the Russians, and Russia has often pushed back on the allegations, as well.

The other oligarchs sanctioned

The other oligarchs sanction by Treasury are:

  • Oil tycoon Vladimir Bogdanov.
  • Suleiman Kerimov, who faces money-laundering charges in France for allegedly bringing hundreds of millions of euros into the country without reporting the money to tax authorities.
  • Igor Rotenberg, principal owner of Russian oil and gas drilling company Gazprom Burenie.
  • Andrei Skoch, a deputy in the Russian Federation's State Duma. U.S. officials said he has longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups.
  • Viktor Vekselberg, founder and chairman of the Renova Group asset management company.Treasury said two of his associates in the company had been arrested by Russian prosecutors in a bribery investigation connected to a power generation project.