U.S. slaps more Russia's Prigozhin-linked sanctions

U.S. slaps more Russia's Prigozhin-linked sanctions

The United States imposed sanctions against three individuals and five legal entities allegedly linked to Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the US Treasury Department said in a press release.

"Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took further action as part of its ongoing sanctions efforts regarding financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin (Prigozhin), by targeting entities located in Sudan, Hong Kong, and Thailand that have enabled his ability to evade U.S. sanctions. The actors targeted today have directly facilitated Prigozhin’s global operations and attempted to suppress and discredit protestors seeking democratic reforms in Sudan," according to the press release.

The black list contains Russian citizens Igor Lavrenkov, Andrey Mandel and Mikhail Potepkin, Russian company M Invest, Sudan’s Meroe Gold Co as well as three companies from Hong Kong and Thailand.

"Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his network are exploiting Sudan’s natural resources for personal gain and spreading malign influence around the globe," said Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that the United States took steps to further curtail Yevgeny Prigozhin's destabilizing global activity.

"Prigozhin’s global malign activities are well-documented, as demonstrated by his designation under multiple U.S. sanctions authorities," said the chief of US diplomacy, but does not provide evidence.

Pompeo claimed that Prigozhin "relies on a network of front companies and facilitators" in an attempt to evade sanctions."

The State Department said the companies "facilitated more than 100 transactions exceeding $7.5 million" during 2018 and 2019 that were sent in the interest of Prigozhin, TASS reported.

"Prigozhin’s role in Sudan highlights the interplay between Russia’s paramilitary operations, support for preserving authoritarian regimes, such as that of former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, and exploitation of natural resources," the State Secretary said.

Blacklisting means a freeze on assets in the United States and a ban on American citizens or companies from doing business with those involved.

In February 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted 13 Russian citizens and three law firms for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. According to the prosecution, Prigozhin’s companies funded the St. Petersburg Internet Research Agency, which tried to support Donald Trump. On March 16, 2020, the Washington federal court upheld the prosecutor's motion to terminate the process. Russian authorities repeatedly rejected allegations of attempts to influence the course of US elections.