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Sanctions of Russian oligarchs | A “lack of consistency”



Canada, less severe than its allies

Canada sanctions fewer Russian oligarchs than the US, UK and Europe.

According to the compilation of The Press, Canada is currently sanctioning 14 Russian multi-billionaire oligarchs and very important economic actors in Russia. By way of comparison, according to the same criteria, the United States sanctions 16, the European Union 19 and the United Kingdom 20.

Canada’s list is almost identical to that of the United States, with the exception of two oligarchs who are not sanctioned here: Suleiman Kerimov and Viktor Vekselberg (see capsule). These two oligarchs are also sanctioned in the United Kingdom.

Six Russian oligarchs subject to sanctions in Europe and the United Kingdom are not sanctioned in Canada or the United States. Among them is Russia’s richest businessman Alexey Mordashov. According to ForbesMr. Mordashov held a fortune of US$29.1 billion as of April 2021, which would make him the 51and richest person in the world.


Oligarch Alexey Mordashov is Russia’s richest businessman.

Its main investments are in the aluminum company Severstal. He also owns about 30% of TUI Group, a global tourism company that notably owns 49% of the Quebec carrier Sunwing.

The Trudeau government would not indicate why Canada does not sanction these oligarchs.

The office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, specifies that “all options for future measures remain on the table”. It is possible that other Russians will be subject to sanctions.

“We believe our set of sanctions is among the strongest in the world. We will continue to work with our allies and international partners, including the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, to ensure that we are aligned and there is no escape,” Minister Joly’s office said by email. Ottawa says it has, together with its allies, “assessed potential targets that would have the greatest impact on the Russian government and that would exert maximum pressure on President Putin.”

“Tacit understanding” with the regime

University of Ottawa law professor Jennifer Quaid says “this lack of consistency is not ideal.” “To the extent that there is a difference between Canada’s sanctions list and those of its closest allies, one would expect an explanation from the government,” said Quaid, specialist in corporate criminal law.

Public international law scholar Vladyslav Lanovoy is not surprised that the UK has targeted more Russian oligarchs. Over the decades, many of them have made this country their home or made investments. “There are more Russians linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime with assets and business operations in the UK [qu’au Canada]. That could explain the discrepancy [entre les listes] says the Université Laval professor.

Why do Western states sanction these ultra-rich? To put pressure on Russia. And because the oligarchs have a “tacit agreement” with Vladimir Putin’s regime, explains Professor Jennifer Quaid. “Their wealth [souvent liée aux ressources naturelles russes] depends on their adherence to and non-interference in the actions of the regime. Their economic situation is partly attributable to their ties to the regime and their behavior that pleases the regime,” she says.


Meeting between the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the oligarch Roman Abramovich in the Kremlin, in May 2005

In total, Canada sanctions about 700 Russians and Russian companies in connection with the war in Ukraine. There are businesses, politicians, the military, people close to the Putin regime, as well as oligarchs and economic decision-makers. These sanctions are decided by the Government of Canada.

Among the 14 oligarchs and economic decision-makers who are currently sanctioned by Canada, we find the most famous of all, Roman Abramovich (owner of the Chelsea soccer club), Gennady Timchenko, Alisher Usmanov, Andrei Skoch, Kirill Dmitriev (CEO of the Investment Fund of Russia), Igor Sechin (CEO of the state company Rosneft) and Alexei Miller (CEO of the energy company Gazprom).

“Sanctions are one of the tools at our government’s disposal to put pressure on the Russian regime and to hold accountable those who, through their actions, enabled this illegal and unjustifiable invasion,” the cabinet said in an email. Minister Joly.

Some names

Suleiman Kerimov*

Sanctioned in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe, he was before the war in Ukraine the 10and fortune of Russia (wealth assessed by Forbes to 15.8 billion US in April 2021). He owns 76% of the shares of Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus.

Viktor Vekselberg*

Born in Ukraine, sanctioned in the United States and the United Kingdom, but not in Europe, he made his fortune through aluminum, notably with the Rusal company, one of the largest aluminum producers in the world. . He would be the 19and fortune of Russia (estimated fortune of 9 billion US in April 2021, according to Forbes).

Alexey Mordashov**

Russia’s richest person with a fortune valued at US$29.1 billion as of April 2021, according to Forbes.

Andrey Melnichenko**

Wealth of US$17.9 billion as of April 2021, according to Forbes. It controls the fertilizer company Eurochem and the coal company SUEK.

Mikhail Fridman**

Net worth of 15.5 billion US in April 2021, according to Forbes. He co-founded Alfa Group, Russia’s largest non-state-controlled bank. He would live in London.

German Khan**

Net worth of 10.1 billion US in April 2021, according to Forbes. He co-founded Alfa Group.

Viktor Rashnikov**

Net worth of 11.2 billion US in April 2021, according to Forbes. He is a controlling shareholder of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, one of the largest aluminum companies in the world.

Pyotr Aven**

Wealth of US$5.3 billion as of April 2021, according to Forbes. This financier is the main manager of Alfa Bank.

*Sanctioned elsewhere, but not in Canada
** Sanctioned in Europe and the UK, but not in North America

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