US Announces New Sanctions against Prigozhin's Allies

The United States government announced on Tuesday new sanctions against four companies and one individual due to their alleged links to the notorious Russian mercenary group PMC Wagner and its founder and owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Wagner Group BillboardNew US sanctions against supporters of notorious Wagner Group and Yevgeny Prigozhin. (Photo: Alexander Davronov, Wikimedia, License)According to the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the targeted entities are located in the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Russia.

They are accused of engaging in illicit gold dealings to fund the Wagner Group's fighters, including those in Ukraine and Africa. The targeted individual played a central role in the activities of Wagner Group units in Mali.

The list of designated companies includes: Midas Resources SARLU, a CAR-based mining company affiliated with Prigozhin; Diamville SAU, a gold and diamond purchasing company based in the CAR and controlled by Prigozhin; Industrial Resources General Trading, a Dubai-based industrial goods distributor that provided financial support to Prigozhin through its business dealings with Diamville; and Limited Liability Company DM, a Russia-based firm that also participated in the gold selling scheme.

OFAC also sanctioned Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov, a Russian national who is an executive in the Wagner Group. Ivanov worked closely with Prigozhin's entity Africa Politology and senior Malian government officials on weapons deals, mining concerns, and other Wagner Group activities in Mali in the spring of 2023.

"Treasury's sanctions disrupt key actors in the Wagner Group's financial network and international structure," said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. He emphasized that the U.S. will continue to pursue the Wagner Group's financial resources to limit its expansion and brutality in Africa, Ukraine, and elsewhere.

Simultaneously, the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, Labor, Commerce, and Homeland Security, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), published a fresh recommendation focused on the gold industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"This advisory highlights risks related to the gold trade, including conflict and terror financing, money laundering activities, sanctions evasion, human rights and labor rights abuses, and environmental degradation," the statement read.

The U.S. government reiterated that it has sanctioned various businesses and individuals worldwide who support the Wagner Group's disruptive activities.

"The Wagner Group has committed widespread human rights abuses and has exploited natural resources across multiple countries in Africa. As a Kremlin proxy military force, the Wagner Group has conducted combat operations around the world, including Russia's brutal war in Ukraine," the statement emphasized.

It also revealed that Wagner was involved in a plot to acquire weaponry for its activities in Ukraine by using fraudulent end-use certifications obtained in Mali.

The latest U.S. sanctions against Prigozhin and his mercenaries came a few days after the Russian oligarch and catering mogul turned against one of his closest friends, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an armed mutiny.

The rebellion quickly ended, with Prigozhin confessing that his goal was not to overthrow Putin but to draw attention to Russian military failures in the Ukraine war.

Putin responded with a warrant against his former close ally but ultimately dropped it and allowed him to go into exile in Belarus, thanks to an agreement orchestrated by Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin did not hold back in describing the cost of Prigozhin to Russia.

"From May 2022 to May 2023, the state paid the Wagner Group 86.26 billion rubles (US$991.32 million) in financial assistance and incentive payments," Putin stated while addressing officials of the country's Defense Ministry on Tuesday.

At the same time, Prigozhin’s Concord catering company received 80 billion rubles ($919.25 million) from the state for delivering food and providing catering services to the army, the Russian president said.