US sanctions financial network of Suleiman Kerimov


An ICIJ investigation detailed how Swiss businessman Alexander Studhalter was at the center of a vast web of shell companies tied to Suleiman Kerimov that moved billions via American banks. Writes Spencer Woodman

US authorities have placed new sanctions on the sprawling financial network of powerful Russian oligarch and mining tycoon Suleiman Kerimov, who is associated with a covert group of powerful Russians believed to hold President Vladimir Putin’s vast wealth.

The sanctions target family members and associates of Kerimov, one of Russia’s wealthiest men and a member of the Russian parliament, including his wife, children and a nephew.

Although the US previously sanctioned Kerimov, November 14, 2022 action targeted a number of Kerimov’s associates who had not previously been subject to US sanctions. The Treasury designated Kerimov’s network alongside other sanctions targeting Russia’s military technology supply chain.

Swiss businessman Alexander Studhalter was added to the sanctions listing as “a key player in Kerimov’s financial network, including managing Kerimov’s companies.”

Weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the BBC and other partners published an in-depth investigation into a vast network of shell companies associated with Kerimov. The reporting showed that Studhalter was at the center of various multi-million-dollar transfers between shell companies based in the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.

The Pandora Papers and FinCEN Files showed that this network of firms acted as a conduit for more than a dozen wire transfers sent between 2010 and 2015 flagged as suspicious by bank compliance officers. Despite their suspicions about the wires, the compliance officers’ reports showed that they were unable to determine who was behind the massive transfers, failing to identify links to both Studhalter and Kerimov.

The documents showed how difficult it can be for compliance officials and law enforcement agents to see past the sorts of shell companies and trusts favored by Russian oligarchs and other wealthy people and firms seeking to move money under the radar.


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