Truly targeted economic sanctions could work with Putin
It has been reported that President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Chile is a “powerful example” to the world in first appeal with President-elect Historians Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin to speak at House event on January 6 Overnight Healthcare – Omicron puts the brakes on PLUS vaccination mandates envisaged very drastic economic sanctions to thwart a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine so that Putin suffers “serious consequences” for any military conquest of a sovereign state bordering on Russia.
Considering past attempts to impose sanctions that amounted to a cut and paste of a list of Russian oligarchs from Forbes magazine, a reasonable person might ask, “What could these sanctions be and would they work?” How would they be different? Are there any alternative options? “
Bloomberg reports that Biden has considered banning Russia’s access to the Swift financial system used by banks around the world. This is unlikely given the likely harm innocent Russians would suffer.
Bloomberg also suggests that Biden may be more inclined to research Russia’s ability to convert rubles into dollars, euros, or pounds sterling. But it would be a large and complex task which is not easy to accomplish.
It has further been suggested that Germany’s new government has hinted for the first time that an escalation of the Ukraine crisis could also affect the fate of Nordstream 2, a pipeline that is to carry gas from Russia. This could prove to be a more costly solution than the problem for Germany.
An alternative approach could lie in the recent unveiling of a new installment of the Pandora Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealing that “Russian nationals are disproportionately represented in the Pandora Papers”. According to the ICIJ, “Russians are behind about 14% of the more than 27,000 companies whose ownership details are revealed by the leak. Among them, at least 46 Russian oligarchs use offshore companies.
Biden could seek to lead by example with a lesser-known oligarch – and increase the pressure from there.
Consider the following from the Pandora Papers: A Russian company that received $ 500 million in contracts from the Russian state gas company in 2012 was owned by Ruslan Goryukhin, former aide to Arkady Rotenberg. who was a childhood friend and judo partner of Vladimir PoutineVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden Tells Putin US Will Respond “Decisively” If Russia Invades Ukraine and – with his brother Boris – an owner of the largest reputable construction company in Russia. The Rotenbergs have long been seen as the front of Putin’s wealth accumulation by serving as appointed officers in a host of offshore shell companies for the Russian mafia head of state.
The Rotenberg brothers control much of the construction of the pipeline for Gazprom, the aforementioned state gas company. Goryukhin has long been involved in logistics for pipeline construction, especially in Nordstream 1 & 2. He is now retired and lives in Switzerland. The Pandora Papers have identified at least 25 offshore companies linked to Goryukhin, most of which are located in the British Virgin Islands but linked to Cyprus and Ukraine as well as Switzerland. It would be a simple exercise for Biden to provide the list of offshore companies to the US Treasury’s Financial Enforcement Center (FinCEN) and ask them – formally or informally – to contact their global banking sources to find out which banks serving Goryukhin and its companies. screens. They could start in Switzerland since Goryukhine and his family have lived there for years. After identifying all bank accounts linked to Goryukhin, Biden can request that FinCEN provide this detailed data to another treasury agency – OFAC – Office of Foreign Asset Control, the office designated to apply the sanctions, assuming Biden sanctions Goryukhin.
Has Goryukin already been sanctioned? True, the Rotenbergs and other oligarchs living above Western pork have already been sanctioned. How would this approach be different?
The difference is in the details provided by the Pandora Papers in terms of the ICIJ’s meticulous research to identify offshore shell companies and their appointed directors who can now be associated with specific oligarchs. Highlighting and hopefully cutting off those offshore shells and candidates from their service bank accounts may well be an inconvenience for the Russian elite, just like past sanctions – but to publicize the details of offshore wealth and the Efforts by wealthy Russians to conceal their exfiltrated wealth from ordinary Russians struggling to get out of it may well spark an insurgency with real consequences in Mother Russia.
Starting with sanctioning a Russian oligarch residing in Switzerland and closely associated with Gazprom, the Rotenbergs, Nordstreams, Cyprus and Ukraine could send a frightening wake-up call through Putin’s arc without harming Russian or German workers.
Spreading information about this action throughout Russia, Europe, Ukraine and the parallel offshore financial world – including Switzerland and the BVI – could spark unrest among Navalny supporters in Russia and / or incite the 45 other Russian oligarchs to convince Putin to use the exit ramp. on Ukraine provided to him by Biden in order to ensure the financial autonomy of the Russian elite.
It was the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich who recommended to Yeltsin that Putin be named as Yeltsin’s heir, at least that’s what they say. Could history repeat itself if the Russian oligarchs really felt financially threatened?
Could this be what Biden is really referring to when suggesting that Putin faces dire consequences never before encountered if he continues on the path of the military incursion into Ukraine?
If targeting Goryukhin doesn’t do the trick, maybe pointing the Pandora Papers financial microscope at the Rotenbergs would spur Putin on. Does Putin really want the world to know the true range of his bank holdings, equity investments, overseas real estate – all held in the names of trusted friends and associates who control shell companies offshore who hold the key?
It sounds serious.
Martin J. Sheil is a retired IRS Criminal Investigations Supervisory Officer with 30 years of experience, including as the Coordinator of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the Coast Region. of the Gulf, Branch Manager for the District of North Texas (Dallas), Special Agent in Charge of the District of South Texas (San Antonio) and Director of IRS CI Asset Forfeiture in Washington, DC