US Congress members demand sanctions against AFK Sistema Head Yevtushenkov
The billionaire was included in Appendix B, which was a list of over 90 Russian oligarchs, which transpired to fully mirror the list of the wealthiest Russians according to Forbes magazine.
Two US Congress members appealed to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin with a request to determine whether Russian businessman Vladimir Yevtushenkov falls under criteria for becoming subject to US sanctions, Ekho Moskvy reports.
The editor-in-chief of the radio station, Alexey Venediktov published a screenshot of the appeal dated 16 May in his Telegram channel. The document notes that billionaire Yevtushenkov was mentioned in the Kremlin report, made public in late January of this year in the United States, along with other Russian oligarchs.
The billionaire was featured in Appendix B, which was a list of more than 90 Russian oligarchs, which turned out to fully mirror the list of the most affluent Russians according to Forbes magazine (as of April 2017).
The Congress members remind that Yevtushenkov is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the main owner of AFK Sistema holding. The shares of AFK-controlled cellular mobile operator MTS are still freely traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile, the authors of the letter remark, "according to publicly available information, Mr. Yevtushenkov's companies have been involved in large-scale investment and construction projects in the Crimea" - a region that "has been illegally occupied and annexed by the Russian Federation."
In particular, they refer to the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, made during one of the trips to the Crimea, in which he said that Yevtushenkov and AFK Sistema would "build multi-specialty medical institutions in both Sevastopol and the Republic of Crimea." According to the Kremlin’s website, Putin announced this in October 2016, speaking at a meeting of the Interregional Forum of the All-Russia People’s Front called Action Forum. Crimea.
The authors of the request recall that regulations in force in the USA, including the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), provide for the inclusion in the sanctions list of all persons that personally carry out operations in the Crimea. They also point to allegations of MTS's involvement in corruption in Uzbekistan. The Congress members ask to conduct an investigation into Vladimir Yevtushenkov and the companies under his control, and, if it is deemed necessary, to sanction them.
According to RBC, the authors of the appeal are members of the US Congress Mark Walker and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. They were both elected to the Congress from the Republican Party, the former represents North Carolina, the latter – Florida.
The official spokesperson of AFK Sistema, Sergey Kopytov, told RBC that the company had not received any official requests. "AFK Sistema Group does not conduct investment activities on the territory of Sevastopol and the Republic of Crimea," he assured.
So far, there has been no public reaction to the letter dated May 16 from the US authorities. Nevertheless, shares of AFK Sistema dropped on Friday against the background of the publication of the US Congress members’ letter, TASS notes.
In the course of trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange, ordinary shares of AFK Sistema fell by 6.5% to the level of the closing of previous trades - up to 9.01 rubles ($0.14) per share, according to the data of the Stock Exchange.