The United States on Tuesday accused companies in the United Arab Emirates, the Central African Republic and Russia of engaging in illicit gold deals to help fund the mercenary fighters of Russia’s Wagner Group.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement it has sanctioned four companies linked to Wagner and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, that it alleged were used to help pay the paramilitary’s forces fighting in Ukraine and undertaking operations to support Russian interests in Africa.
"The Wagner Group funds its brutal operations in part by exploiting natural resources in countries like the Central African Republic and Mali. The United States will continue to target the Wagner Group’s revenue streams to degrade its expansion and violence in Africa, Ukraine, and anywhere else," Brian Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.
The State Department said the sanctions were unrelated to Wagner’s short-lived mutiny last weekend against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s defense leadership for its handling of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The sanctions block any assets the companies hold in the U.S. and prohibit them from engaging in new deals in the U.S.
Wagner has fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali and other countries, and has fought some of the bloodiest battles of the 16-month war in Ukraine, including at Bakhmut. Wagner was founded in 2014 after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula and started supporting pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.
The sanctions were imposed on Central African Republic-based Midas Ressources SARLU and Diamville SAU; UAE-based Industrial Resources General Trading; and Russia-based DM, a limited liability company.
Russia's embassy in Washington and Industrial Resources did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reuters could not immediately reach a spokesperson for Midas Ressources, Diamville or Limited Liability Company DM.
Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov, a Russian national, was also sanctioned. The Treasury Department accused him of being an executive in the Wagner Group and said he worked closely with senior Malian officials on weapons deals, mining concerns and other Wagner activities in the country.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.