Britain targets Russian gold, oil sectors in new sanctions

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 29 individuals and entities in Russia’s gold and oil sectors, as it targets the Kremlin’s finances supporting the war in Ukraine.

Britain sanctioned two of Russia’s largest gold producers, Nord Gold Plc and Highland Gold Mining Ltd. Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) also issued an alert to financial institutions, warning them about Russian attempts to use gold to evade sanctions.

The two companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Those sanctioned also include a United Arab Emirates-based network which Britain said was responsible for channelling more than $300 million in gold revenues to Russia, as well as businessmen Vladislav Sviblov and Konstantin Strukov.

“Today’s sanctions will hit those who have provided succour to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin by helping him to lessen the impact of our sanctions on Russian gold and oil – two critical sources of revenue for the Russian war machine,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

The NCA said it hoped its notice would put banks and traders in Britain, a key location for precious metal trading, on alert so that Russian attempts to launder sanctioned gold by masking its origin could be spotted and stopped.

“This alert will aid efforts, in partnership with the regulated sector, including the banks and high value dealers, to ensure that sanctioned individuals or those who represent them cannot use gold to circumvent UK sanctions,” said Adrian Searle, director of the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA.

Britain also sanctioned energy trading firm Paramount Energy & Commodities DMCC, saying its opaque ownership structures have been used by Russia to blunt the impact of the G7’s oil-related sanctions. Paramount did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; additional reporting by Sarah Young and Yousef SabaEditing by William James and Peter Graff)