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More Cypriot companies on US sanctions list

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Four more Cyprus-based companies have been sanctioned by the U.S. authorities after evidence emerged tying them to sanctions evasions and contributing to the enhancement of Russia’s energy production.

According to a statement from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Nicosia-registered companies Azia Shipping Holdings Limited, Fortiana Holdings Limited, Ibex Shipping Inc, and Stanmix Holding Limited were among over 100 entities placed under sanctions.

Fortiana and Stanmix have connections to Vladislav Vladimirovich Sviblov, a Russian businessman, developer, and a significant shareholder in various mining and ore assets in Russia.

Sviblov has also faced sanctions imposed by the U.K.

Another individual, Ilya Borisovich Brodskiy, a Russian born national holding a Cypriot passport, was also subjected to sanctions. He is associated with Open Joint Stock Company Sovcombank, which was sanctioned by the US in the previous year.

Sovcombank, identified as the third-largest privately owned financial institution in Russia by total assets and the ninth-largest bank overall in the country, was impacted by the sanctions.

Turkey, UAE, China

The latest sanctions highlight, “Russia’s utilisation of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the People’s Republic of China, as well as the use of complex transnational networks and third-country cut-outs, to acquire much-needed technology and equipment for its war economy,” according to OFAC.

Earlier, four other Cypriot companies found themselves sanctioned by the U.S. authorities after evidence linking them to the sale of equipment used for drones deployed by Russia in the war on Ukraine.

These companies were found to be directly or indirectly serving the interests of the Kremlin, specifically in assisting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The OFAC statement said the abovementioned companies were linked to a Belgian businessman, Hans De Geetere, sanctioned for helping Russia obtain electronic equipment found in drones launched by Russia against Ukraine.

Cyprus has faced a series of sanctions this year, prompting the deployment of a team of U.S. experts to the island to collaborate with local authorities in their investigations.

A team of 24 U.S. experts, including FBI agents, were brought in to assist in a comprehensive investigation, especially in light of the disclosures made by Cyprus Confidential, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

The exposé shed light on how financial fixers, allegedly including PwC, helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions imposed by the UK and the US, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.