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British and US sanctions target Cyprus individuals and entities

Various Cypriot individuals and entities have been singled out by the latest round of British and US sanctions against Russia.

UK Sanctions

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation HM Treasury in the United Kingdom announced fresh sanctions that are now directed at "those who knowingly assisted sanctioned oligarchs in Russia hide their assets in complex financial networks."

According to the announcement, the oligarchs have tried to hide their wealth, which exceeds £18 billion in Britain, using offshore companies, trusts, shell companies, and even using their family members in the face of unprecedented international sanctions in response to Putin's illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Two Cypriots, Demetris Ioannides and Christodoulos Vassiliades, who, according to recent announcements by the British Foreign Office, are connected to prominent Russian oligarchs like Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, are among those who have been sanctioned.

According to reports, Ioannides was in charge of establishing the "corporate associates" that Abramovich used to conceal more than £760 million in assets prior to the imposition of sanctions as a result of Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine.

The official UK document further mentions that a network of offshore entities connecting Usmanov with the Sutton Place Estate is headed by Cypriot attorney Christodoulos Vassiliades.

Sberbank Investments Limited, a fully-owned subsidiary of PJSC Sberbank with offices in Cyprus, is also believed to include Christodoulos Vassiliades on its board of directors. Russian bank PJSC Sberbank is owned by the Russian Ministry of Finance and therefore, it is deemed as a "a company that continues as a business entity associated with the Government of Russia."

Vladimir and Barbara Scott, the father and daughter of Andrei Scott, a significant ally of Usmanov and the "richest man in the Duma," are included in the new British sanctions regime against Russia.

According to the UK sanctions, all parties concerned must determine whether they have accounts for the people or entities on the new sanctions list, freeze those accounts or assets, and provide thorough reports to the Financial Sanctions Enforcement Office regarding any transactions they have made with those people or businesses.

The latest round of restrictions include asset freezes and travel bans on two Cyprus-based individuals who are reportedly providing services to Abramovich and Usmanov, according to the Guardian.

The actions followed the January publication by the Guardian newspaper's Oligarch Files program that Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea football club, had rapidly rebuilt trusts containing billions of dollars' worth of assets just before he was sanctioned.

It is the latest round of asset freezes and travel bans the UK has imposed on close associates of Abramovich and Usmanov, after both were sanctioned last year shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

US Sanctions

The United States has announced its own additional sanctions against individuals and entities, adding more than 30 Cypriot corporations and individuals to its lists. This comes in response to UK sanctions that targeted two Cypriots.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury announced in a statement (link is external) that the additional sanctions further restrict Russia's access to the global financial system through intermediaries and businesses connected to the Russian government.

Businesses and individuals who appear to be associated with and work for Russian oligarchs even after Russia's invasion of Ukraine are included in the list of US sanctions against Russia.

Other Cypriot citizens are also listed among those subject to sanctions, in addition to Christodoulos Vassiliades and the law firm Christodoulos Vassiliades LLC.

Dimitrios Sergidis, a person connected to Russian oligarch Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, is one of the names mentioned.

According to the American announcements, Usmanov's Cypriot network reportedly includes Kostas Giannakou, Marilena Georgiou, Gulnoz Zunnurovna Kocharova, an Uzbek with a Cypriot passport, and Ismailova Gulbakhor Burkhanovna.

Directors of Usmanov's network of offshore and shell firms include Antonis Vakanas, who holds a British passport, and Kyriakos Attikouris.

Kyriaki Kamperi, who appears to be affiliated with a business subject to the new sanctions system, Skoch Varvara Andreevna, Verrieres-le-Buisson, and Streshinskiy Vladimir Yakovlevich are also named on the sanctions list.

More than 20 Cyprus-based firms connected to the aforementioned are currently subject to sanctions, and it's anticipated that in a few days their transactions will be frozen. Any of these companies' financial system operations will also need to be approved by the competent authorities.

According to recent information, the new American sanctions, following the UK sanctions, have an immediate effect on people and businesses in Europe. It is also possible that they will soon be included in a new set of sanctions adopted by the European Union.

The measures reflect the most recent round of US sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, which has resulted in thousands of deaths or injuries, and they freeze all US assets of persons on the sanctions list while generally forbidding Americans from doing business with them.



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