US preparing further sanctions against Russian oligarchs: Sources

WASHINGTON: The United States is preparing a sanctions package targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as their companies and assets, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday (Mar 2), as Washington steps up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some sanctions could be announced as early as this week, one of the sources told Reuters, adding that details are still being worked out. Washington is also readying sanctions against more officials in Putin’s inner circle, the source said.

The US Treasury Department issued new guidance on Wednesday to close loopholes it said Russia was exploiting to evade sanctions.

“Today’s guidance makes clear that such actions on behalf of Russia’s Central Bank are prohibited, closing off attempts to access the US financial system,” the Treasury Department said.

Washington has repeatedly warned that it was prepared to impose further costs on wealthy Russians. The US Justice Department on Wednesday launched a task force known as “KleptoCapture” aimed at straining the finances of Russia’s oligarchs.

Washington has so far imposed several rounds of sanctions, including against Putin and the central bank, after Russia’s forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest assault on a European state since World War II. Moscow calls the assault a “special operation”.

The measures have included sanctions against what the US Treasury Department said were Russian “elites”, including some with ties to Sberbank, VTB, Rosneft and the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Washington Post, which first reported the United States was preparing to expand sanctions on Russian oligarchs, said the list of people being readied by the White House and Treasury will overlap with some of those sanctioned by the European Union on Monday, including Alisher Usmanov, the owner of an iron and steel conglomerate.

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