The US Treasury Department has named two Russian nationals with ties to Malta in its latest sanctions updates, issued against what it described as “evasion networks and Russian technology companies enabling Putin’s war”, with the Maltese Government saying it will revoke the citizenship of one of them.
The pair are Maltese passport holder Evgeniya Vladimirovna Bernova and her husband and Maltese resident Nikita Aleksandrovich Sobolev, who are involved in Malberg Ltd, a Malta-based company which has worked “to deceptively acquire dual-use equipment on behalf of Russian end-users”.
Other companies run by the pair include the UK-based Djeco Group LP, Malta-based Djeco Group Holding Ltd, Malta-based Maltarent Ltd, and France-based SCI Griber.
In addition, Moscow-based Sernia-Film Co Ltd, where Ms Bernova has served as a director, has facilitated the export of equipment by Malberg to intended government end-users in Russia.
All mentioned companies have been placed under sanctions by the US Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Malberg has been identified as being “owned or controlled by, or having acted or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of Russia”, and Ms Bernova and Mr Sobolev are being sanctioned for being “leaders, officials, senior executive officers, or members of the board of directors of the company”.
Ms Bernova was described as “an associate of the Serniya network”. Moscow-based OOO Serniya Engineering is at the center of a procurement network engaged in proliferation activities at the direction of Russian Intelligence Services.
“This network operates across multiple countries to obfuscate the Russian military and intelligence agency end-users that rely on critical western technology,” OFAC said.
Serniya and Moscow-based OOO Sertal (Sertal) work to illicitly procure dual-use equipment and technology for Russia’s defense sector.
The sanctions, OFAC said, are meant to “continue to impose severe costs on the Russian Federation for its unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine by targeting operators in the Russian technology sector to prevent it from evading unprecedented multilateral sanctions and procure critical western technology”.
In a statement published shortly after the announcement, the Maltese Government said it is “initiating the process of deprivation of Maltese citizenship of a person that appeared on the sanctions as published involving Maltese legal and natural persons”.
It did not make it clear which of the two individuals is having their citizenship revoked, nor whether they obtained their citizenship through investment or through naturalisation.
The Minister for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality said the revocation is being done in accordance with the Maltese Citizenship Act and the respective Subsidiary Legislation, as these provide that the responsible minister may deprive persons who have been registered or naturalised with Maltese citizenship in those circumstances established by the same legal provisions.
The latest sanctions, OFAC said, are meant to restrict Russia’s access to resources for sectors of its economy that are essential to supplying and financing the continued invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia not only continues to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine with its unprovoked aggression but also has escalated its attacks striking civilians and population centers,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “We will continue to target Putin’s war machine with sanctions from every angle, until this senseless war of choice is over.”
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