Australia sanctions Russian billionaire oligarchs


Canberra on Friday announced new sanctions against 11 government entities and financial institutions and 41 more individuals, including two billionaires

 

The Australian government has expanded its list of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine to include two billionaires who have mining interests in the country.

Marise Payne, the foreign minister, on Friday announced new sanctions against 11 government and financial institutions and 41 more individuals, including the two oligarchs close to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

The additional banks together account for about 80% all banking assets in Russia, Payne said, and include Sberbank, Gazprombank, VEB, VTB, Rosselkhozbank, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Alfa-Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow.

Pressure has built on the Australian government this week as to why it had not, following the invasion of Ukraine, already applied sanctions to the two billionaires who have been targeted by other countries.

“The Australian government is deeply committed to imposing high costs on Russia,” Payne said in a statement. “This includes by listing individuals of economic and strategic significance to Russia who have supported, and benefited from, the Putin regime.”

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto controls an aluminium and bauxite facility in Queensland 20% owned by Rusal, the Russian steel company that oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg part-own via their investment companies.

Rio Tinto said last week that it would cut ties with all Russian customers. Deripaska has tried to distance himself from Rusal since the US applied sanctions in 2019.

Vekselberg has a minority stake in Falcon Gas, which operates a joint venture with Origin Energy south of Darwin.

The Australian government’s expanded sanctions list includes the Russian Ministry of Finance and the Russian National Wealth Fund.

 

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.