US unveils fresh sanctions wave on Moscow elite

A FRESH round of sanctions on figures close to the Russian regime was announced by the American government yesterday.

The list of people sanctioned included Igor Sechin, president and chairman of the board of Rosneft, an oil firm in which the Russian government is a majority shareholder and BP holds a 20 per cent stake. BP shares dropped one per cent, but the firm said it was committed to the investment.

Russia’s deputy prime minister and new envoy to Crimea were also sanctioned, along with four others.

The action means that the individuals have their US assets frozen, and will be unable to deal with US citizens on a financial basis. The Treasury said that Russia’s failure to comply with an agreement made in Geneva to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine had prompted the new measures.

Meanwhile, the UK Serious Fraud Office said it had opened a criminal investigation into possible money laundering arising from corruption in Ukraine and frozen $23m in assets.

The Russian Micex stock index rose during the day, up 1.63 per cent. It is down by almost 14 per cent since the beginning of 2014.

IG chief market strategist Brenda Kelly suggested that the reaction so far had been muted, saying “it seems that markets are content to let the politicians trade sanctions and rhetoric, as long as it goes no further”.