On Wednesday, the US imposed additional sanctions on more than 40 individuals and businesses suspected of dodging the continuous wave of sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine.
The fines include the first batch of penalties related to the campaign against bitcoin mining companies.
The commercial bank Transkapitalbank, which has business in China and the Middle East, has been designated by the Treasury Department’s sanctions arm.
Transkapitalbank is a privately held Russian commercial bank, according to the US, that has assisted sanctioned customers in processing dollar payments by offering an alternate communication route to SWIFT, the main worldwide financial transaction system.
Malofeyev was also designated for sanctions in December 2014. Treasury said he was one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea.
Treasury also targeted individuals and businesses linked to Russian tycoon Konstantin Malofeyev, the creator of Tsargrad TV, a Russian Orthodox news station.
In a first, the U.S. government issued penalties against a cryptocurrency firm in relation to the war.
Digital currency firm Bitriver AG and 10 of its subsidiaries were included in Wednesday’s package of sanctions from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“The United States is committed to ensuring that no asset, no matter how complex, becomes a mechanism for the Putin regime to offset the impact of sanctions,” Treasury said in a statement. Lawmakers and administration officials have voiced concerns that Russia may be using cryptocurrency to avoid pain from the avalanche of sanctions imposed on banks, oligarchs and the energy industry in recent months due to the invasion.
Experts say an increased reliance on cryptocurrency would be an inevitable avenue for Russia to try to prop up its financial transactions, but Treasury officials have rejected the claim that cryptocurrency could be a major driver of sanctions evasion. In a statement that was released shortly after the sanctions became public, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said “Russia’s invasion is an assault on fundamental international rules and norms and threatens the core of the international order.”
“The United States stands resolutely with the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people.” The statement was released in connection with the joint International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee meeting related to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.
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