RFE/RL: U.S. slaps more sanctions on Kremlin-linked businessman Prigozhin

10:30, 16 July 2020
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The State Department announced on July 15 that it sanctioned five companies connected to Yevgeny Prigozhin, as well as three individuals, in the latest bid to stop the financier's "destabilizing global activity," Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

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The companies are located in Sudan, Hong Kong, and Thailand, the statement said.

"Prigozhin relies on a network of front companies and facilitators" in an attempt to evade sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. "Prigozhin's global malign activities are well-documented, as demonstrated by his designation under multiple U.S. sanctions authorities."

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Prigozhin as well as his previously known companies, including the Internet Research Agency and the Vagner Group, a Russian military contractor force active in Libya, Syria, and Africa.

The Internet Research Agency engaged in online media influence operations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election as part of Russia's attempt to influence the vote.

The State Department said in the July 15 statement that it had sanctioned M Invest and Meroe Gold. Prigozhin uses the two companies as cover for Vagner's operations in Sudan. It also sanctioned the companies' leaders, Andrei Mandel and Mikhail Potemkin.

"Prigozhin's role in Sudan highlights the interplay between Russia's paramilitary operations, support for preserving authoritarian regimes, such as that of former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, and exploitation of natural resources," the statement said.

Hong Kong and Thailand-based front companies Shine Dragon Group Limited, Shen Yang Jing Cheng Machinery Imp. & Exp. Co, and Zhe Jiang Jiayi Small Commodities Trade Company Limited were also sanctioned for helping Prigozhin's business interests.

The State Department said the companies "facilitated more than 100 transactions exceeding US$7.5 million" during 2018 and 2019 that were sent in the interest of Prigozhin.

The United States also sanctioned Igor Lavrenkov, who oversaw the Asian businesses.

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