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Washington blocked more than $1 billion in US assets owned by the Russian oligarch

#Washington #blocked #billion #assets #owned #Russian #oligarch

The United States on Thursday blocked a more than $1 billion US-based company linked to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, saying President Vladimir Putin’s ally used it to pledge shady funds funnel and invest.

The Treasury Department said Kerimov, a billionaire active in Russian politics, secretly managed the Delaware-based Heritage Trust, which funneled its money into a number of large public companies.

The Heritage Trust, established in 2017, brought money to the United States through shell companies and under-the-radar foundations set up in Europe, Treasury Department officials said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pledged that the United States would continue to take action “even as Russian elites hide behind proxies and complex legal arrangements.”

The United States will “actively implement the multilaterally coordinated sanctions imposed on those who fund and profit from Russia’s war against Ukraine,” she said in a statement.

The action comes weeks after Fiji handed the United States a $300 million superyacht linked to Kerimov, who has been under US sanctions since 2018 over alleged money laundering and his role in the Russian government.

The United States and European nations have stepped up a crackdown on Russian oligarchs following Putin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which sparked a spate of Western sanctions.

Kerimov, originally from the Russian Republic of Dagestan in the Caucasus, rose to become one of the richest people in the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

His family controls the major gold producer Polyus. The Group of Seven Industrial Democracies agreed on Sunday to ban gold exports from Russia.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranked him the 190th richest person in the world at the end of 2021 with a value of $11.8 billion.

Kerimov sparked an international incident in 2017 when he was arrested by French authorities while flying to Nice on allegations of tax fraud and the suspicious purchase of five luxury villas.

Russia summoned a French envoy to protest and the charges were eventually dropped, but French prosecutors reopened an investigation in 2019.

BBC News said in April it had seen leaked documents showing Kerimov’s elaborate efforts to hide his fortune, which allegedly involved hiring a Swiss tattoo artist to run a company that had transferred more than $300 million.

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