(Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on dozens of people and entities, including a Russian commercial bank and a virtual currency mining company, in hopes of targeting Moscow’s escape from existing sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The US Treasury Department said it had designated a virtual currency mining company for the first time, along with more than 40 people, and units led by US-appointed Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.
“Treasury can and will target those who avoid, try to evade or help evade US sanctions against Russia, as they help support Putin’s brutal election war,” said Brian Nelson, finance minister under terrorism and financial intelligence. a statement.
The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States and its allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, including targeting the country̵7;s largest lender and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Wednesday’s move targets Russia’s virtual currency mining industry, reportedly the third largest in the world, and sanctions the holding company of Moscow-based bitcoin miner BitRiver, which operates a data center in Siberia, and 10 of the holding company’s Russia-based subsidiaries.
In a statement, Igor Runets, the founder and CEO of BitRiver, said that his company “has never provided services to Russian government institutions and has not worked with clients who have already been affected by Washington’s sanctions.”
“These US actions should obviously be seen as interference in the crypto-mining industry, unfair competition and an attempt to change the global balance of power in favor of US companies,” Runets said.
The Ministry of Finance also imposed sanctions on the Russian commercial bank Transkapitalbank, whose representatives it said serves several banks in Asia, including in China and the Middle East, and has proposed alternatives to avoid international sanctions.
Its subsidiary, Investtradebank, was also appointed.
Wednesday’s action freezes all U.S. assets for the designated and generally prevents Americans from managing them.
However, Washington issued two general licenses related to Transbank Capital in addition to the sanctions, which approved the settlement of business with the bank until May 20 and certain transactions intended for or originating from Afghanistan until October 20 “in support of efforts to address it. humanitarian crisis. “
The United States also imposed further sanctions on the Russian oligarch Malofeyev, whom the US government has long accused of being one of the main sources of funding for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea. He was first appointed during the Obama administration in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice accused Malofeyev of violating sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
“The United States will work to ensure that the sanctions we have imposed, in close coordination with our international partners, impair the Kremlin’s ability to project power and finance its invasion,” Nelson said.
The US State Department is also introducing visa restrictions for over 600 people in an attempt to promote accountability for crimes and human rights violations, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement, which prevents them from traveling to the US.
Three Russian officials were also hit by visa restrictions for “serious human rights violations” along with 17 others were hit by charges of undermining democracy in Belarus.
“We will use all tools to promote accountability for violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine,” Blinken said.