20 March 2014, News Wires – A Russian oil industry billionaire has been added to the US list of individuals hit with sanctions in the wake of the annexing of Crimea by Russia.
Gennady Timchenko, a major shareholder in gas producer Novatek and co-owner of oil trading giant Gunvor Group, is one of 20 people to be added to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control’s list of specially designated nationals.
Switzerland resident Timchenko, a Russian and Finnish citizen, has been sanctioned over his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin as Western powers come down hard on Russia over this week’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory.
The 61-year-old Timchenko is reported to hold a 23% stake in Novatek as well as a 13% share in IG Seismic Services. As well as being a co-founder of Gunvor, he is said to have shareholdings in gas producer Petromir, railway operator Transoil and coal producer Colmar.
US magazine Forbes recently named him as the sixty-first richest person in the world with an estimated personal fortune of $15.3 billion. In an interview with Forbes Russia he confirmed his close relationship with Putin, saying: “We’ve known each other for years, and we do meet from time to time.”
Timchenko is also chairman of KHL, Russia’s national hockey league.
The US also added Russian financial institution Bank Rossiya to its latest list on Thursday, for supporting government officials.
The Kremlin responded on Thursday by unveiling sanctions of its own against key US officials including congressmen Harry Reid, John Boehner and John McCain, as well as one of President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Benjamin Rhodes.