Shares of billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's companies were pummeled on the Moscow Stock Exchange on Friday following news from the US that a group of congressmen is seeking sanctions against the businessman, who has already given the State key oil assets and lost 70% of his fortune due to a conflict with Rosneft.
US Congressmen affiliated with the Republican Party, Mark Walker and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, argued that the inclusion of Yevtushenkov, as well as his companies AFK Sistema and MTS, in the black list would prevent the billionaire from being able to refinance the debt and settle in dollars.
In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and State Secretary Mike Pompeo, they explained that Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly stated that Sistema, in which Yevtushenkov controls almost two-thirds of the shares, is involved in large-scale investment and construction projects in the Crimea which is "illegally occupied and annexed by Russia " .
Information on the Kremlin’s website notes that the company is building multi-purpose medical institutions in Sevastopol and other cities of the peninsula.
Shares of AFK Sistema, the holding company through which Yevtushenkov controls key assets, have fallen by 13% at the moment, shaving another 8 billion rubles ($130 million) off the billionaire’s estimated fortune.
In the letter, the congressmen remind us that Yevtushenkov is mentioned in the unseen portion of the so-called Kremlin report on officials and businessmen whom Washington considers to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yevtushenkov fell into the second part of the report, which includes a list of "oligarchs".
"We urge the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State, working with other relevant Executive Branch agencies, to promptly investigate Vladimir Yevtushenkov, AFK Sistema holding company, and Mobile TeleSystems, and if merited, to sanction them as authorized under CAATSA, any relevant Executive Order, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," said the congressmen’s letter.
5 years ago, Yevtushenkov was placed under house arrest, losing Bashneft to the State and a court case with Rosneft, which accused the billionaire of withdrawing assets and illegaly laundering 136.3 billion rubles. As a result, Yevtushenkov lost 70% of his fortune, falling from #22 in Russian Forbes’s list of richest Russians with $9 billion in 2014 to 49th place, with $2 billion.