The Department of the Treasury on Wednesday announced strengthened sanctions against two of Russia’s largest financial institutions that were already subject to U.S. restrictions.
Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest and fourth-largest financial institutions, respectively, had full blocking sanctions imposed against them, steps taken to “further restrict” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion efforts in Ukraine, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen remarked in a press release. The two banks each had prior prohibitions placed on them by the Treasury on Feb. 24, though neither was subject to full blocking sanctions.
As a result of Wednesday’s action, U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of Sberbank and 42 of its subsidiaries. All entities owned 50 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by Sberbank are also blocked, even if not designated by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The same restrictions apply to Alfa-Bank, six of its subsidiaries, and five vessels owned by leasing company Alfa-Lizing OOO.
The announcement of the expanded sanctions was accompanied by a new executive order by President Joe Biden prohibiting new investment in the Russian Federation. Biden earlier this week called for Putin to be tried for war crimes regarding his country’s invasion of Ukraine and the recent killing of civilians in Bucha.
Putin’s two adult daughters were also sanctioned Wednesday, as was the wife and daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Department of Justice update
The Justice Department on Wednesday announced its first criminal charges brought against a Russian oligarch since Russia invaded Ukraine. Konstantin Malofeyev, who was sanctioned in 2014, was charged with conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions and violations of U.S. sanctions by allegedly using co-conspirators to acquire and run media outlets across Europe and for arranging the transfer of shares he owned in a Texas bank to a business associate in 2015.
The enforcement action followed the agency’s announcement Tuesday that it worked with its counterparts in Germany to shut down Hydra, the world’s largest darknet market and a major source of crime and money laundering utilized primarily in Russian-speaking countries.
“As Russia and its aggression continues, we have our eyes on every yacht and jet; we have our eyes on every piece of art and real estate purchased with dirty money and on every bitcoin wallet filled with the proceeds of theft and other crimes,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in a speech Wednesday. “Together with our partners around the world, our goal is to ensure that sanctioned Russian oligarchs and cybercriminals will not find safe haven.”
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