, 2022-06-02 02:00:00,
The US government has imposed sanctions on a close Vladimir Putin associate as well as a yacht management firm and its owners, describing them as part of a system that allows the Russian president and his elite to “move money and anonymously make use of luxury assets around the globe”.
In a statement, the treasury department said that it was sanctioning Monaco-based Imperial Yachts and its owner, Moscow-born Evgeniy Kochman.
According to the department, Kochman’s company “provides yacht-related services to Russia’s elites, including those in President Putin’s inner circle”. It identified four yachts “favoured by Putin” that the Russian leader has “taken numerous trips on” as recently as last year: the Nega, the Graceful, the Olympia and the Shellest.
According to the department, Putin used the Nega for travel in Russia’s north, and the Shellest to visit his “infamous Black Sea Palace”, a £1bn seaside mansion that Putin has denied owning.
The BBC Russian service earlier reported that the Graceful abruptly left the German port in Hamburg where it was docked for maintenance two weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, prompting speculation that it was trying to avoid sanctions as it arrived in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
The White House said in a statement that the latest sanctions were designed “to crack down on evasion and tighten our sanctions to enhance enforcement and increase pressure on Putin and his enablers”.
“Russia’s elites, up to and including President Putin, rely on complex support networks to hide, move and maintain their wealth and luxury assets,” said Brian Nelson, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the treasury department. “We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves.”
The department also announced sanctions against the cellist Sergei Roldugin, a longtime friend of Putin who is believed to be the godfather of the Russian leader’s first child.
Roldugin, already sanctioned by the EU, was named in the 2016 Panama Papers leaks as a behind-the-scenes player in a clandestine network operated by Putin associates that has shuffled hundreds of…
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