Washington targets entities in Sudan that support Russian financier
On Wednesday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took further action as part of its ongoing sanctions efforts regarding Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, by targeting entities located in Sudan, Hong Kong, and Thailand that have enabled his ability to evade American sanctions.
To expand his global operations, Prigozhin relies upon a vast network of financial facilitators and front companies to enable his ability to evade sanctions and transact in US dollars despite being blocked from the American financial system, the US Department of the Treasury reported in a press release yesterday.
The actors targeted have directly facilitated Prigozhin’s global operations and attempted to suppress and discredit protestors seeking democratic reforms in Sudan.
“Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his network are exploiting Sudan’s natural resources for personal gain and spreading malign influence around the globe,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States remains committed to holding him and other bad actors accountable so Sudan and other countries can operate freely.”
Prigozhin is the financer of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll farm that was designated by OFAC in 2018. He is also believed to be the financier behind Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner, a designated Russian Ministry of Defence proxy force.
PMC Wagner’s activities in other countries, including Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, and Libya, have generated insecurity and incited violence against innocent civilians. Due to his involvement in these activities and his connections to the Russian government, Prigozhin has been designated pursuant to Executive Orders 13848, 13694, as amended, and 13661.
While his activities span the globe, Prigozhin’s role in Sudan highlights the interplay between Russia’s paramilitary operations, support for preserving authoritarian regimes, and exploitation of natural resources.
During his 30-year tenure, former Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir increased economic and security cooperation with Russia, receiving military assistance and offering agreements spanning some of Sudan’s most lucrative sectors such as oil, natural gas, agriculture, and gold.
The new measures are set to prevent Prigozhin’s interference with Sudan’s democratic transition and allow the new government an opportunity to regain control of Sudan’s national assets, the press release reads.
Targets in Sudan
M Invest is a Russia-based entity that is owned or controlled by Prigozhin. M Invest serves as a cover for PMC Wagner forces operating in Sudan, and was responsible for developing plans for former Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir to suppress protestors seeking democratic reforms.
In addition, in 2017, M Invest was awarded concession agreements to explore gold mining sites in Sudan during a 2017 summit between the Russian and Bashir-led Sudanese governments. To oversee its activities on the ground, M Invest relies upon its subsidiary, Meroe Gold. M Invest also depends upon Andrei Mandel, M Invest’s Director General, and Mikhail Potepkin, who serves as Meroe Gold’s Regional Director based in Sudan.
As a result of the designations, all property and interests in property of these persons that are or come within the possession of US persons are blocked. Any entities that are for 50 percent or more owned by one or more of these designated persons are also blocked. Non-US persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions.
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