Earlier this year, the Trump administration released a list of Russians with close ties to the Kremlin, but stopped short of imposing sanctions on them.
On Friday, the US Treasury Department issued a more serious rebuke to Russia: It slapped sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin, along with 17 senior Russian officials. CNN has compiled profiles of these players but was not able to reach all of them for comment.
Who are the oligarchs on the list?
The Aluminum King: Oleg Deripaska
Oligarch Oleg Deripaska figures most prominently on the list. Number 19 on the Forbes list of Russia’s wealthiest, Deripaska has an estimated worth of more than $5 billion. The Treasury Department describes Deripaska as controlling the industrial group Basic Element, a holding company based in Jersey in the Channel Islands. He’s the owner of EN+, an industrial firm.
Deripaska emerged from the Russian aluminum wars of the 1990s, an often-violent battle for control of the industry. According to the Treasury Department, Deripaska’s United Co. Rusal PLC is one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, responsible for 7% of global aluminum output.
Today, Deripaska is best known as a former business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who faces criminal indictments in Virginia and DC federal courts related to his foreign lobbying business from before the 2016 presidential election campaign (Manafort has pleaded not guilty in both cases). Deripaska is also at the center of a politically charged tabloid scandal after a self-styled “seductress” posted footage online of a meeting on a yacht between Deripaska and a Russian deputy prime minister. Deripaska has called an online investigation by opposition leader Alexei Navalny into the yacht outing “outrageous” and “false.” A spokesman for Deripaska told CNN he was suing the seductress and her business partner.
The Son-in-Law: Kirill Shamalov
The Treasury Department said it was sanctioning Kirill Shamalov “for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy,” a state-dominated sector of the Russian economy, but that doesn’t appear to be the only reason the young tycoon landed on the list. As the Treasury Department notes, Shamalov has a family connection to Putin. He married the Russian President’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova. Following the marriage, Shamalov rose rapidly in the ranks of Russia’s wealthiest, acquiring a large share in petrochemical giant Sibur.
The Kremlin as a rule does not comment on Putin family matters. But Shamalov also has another important connection to Russia’s first family. His father, Nikolai Shamalov, is a personal friend of Putin’s. The elder Shamalov helped co-found the Ozero cooperative, an elite dacha community that includes Putin as a member.
The Second-Generation Oligarch: Igor Rotenberg
The Treasury Department also designated Igor Rotenberg, another business leader with an influential father. According to the Treasury Department, Rotenberg “acquired significant assets” from his father, Arkady Rotenberg, a childhood friend of Putin’s. Arkady Rotenberg and his brother Boris have made immense fortunes in government contracting and won around $7 billion in contracts for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, according to the US Treasury Department. Both brothers are on the 2014 US sanctions list that followed Russia’s invasion of Crimea.
Igor Rotenberg also courted controversy in Russia over Platon, an electronic toll system that is deeply unpopular with truckers and is run by a company he holds a stake in, according to Forbes Russia. The toll system is unpopular because it eats into truckers’ wages and is seen as a corrupt and nepotistic scheme that benefits individuals connected to Putin.
The Stealth Billionaire: Suleiman Kerimov
The Treasury Department said it sanctioned Suleiman Kerimov as a member of the government, Russia’s Federation Council. Kerimov – number 20 on the Forbes Russia list, with a net worth of more than $6 billion – was born in Dagestan, a republic in Russia’s North Caucasus.
The billionaire had long maintained a low profile, but he made headlines in 2012 after he crashed his $650,000 Ferrari Enzo into a tree on the French Riviera. Kerimov survived serious injuries, and the case brought attention to the ways sometimes unexplained Russian wealth made its way into Western financial institutions.
The Martial Artist: Andrei Skoch
The Treasury Department sanctioned Andrei Skoch, a deputy in the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament. According to Russian Forbes, Skoch is a qualified trainer in judo and sambo, a Soviet-developed martial art; according to the Treasury Department, he has “longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups.” Skoch could not be immediately reached by CNN for comment.
The Top-Ten Tycoon: Viktor Vekselberg
Viktor Vekselberg also made his fortune in energy and metals. Ranked number 9 on the Forbes list of Russia’s richest, Vekselberg is listed in the Treasury sanctions as the founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Renova Group, an asset-management company. “They treat foreigners badly around the world, and in general they treat Russians twice as badly,” he once told the Russian business paper Vedomosti. “You will laugh, but they see the hand of the Kremlin everywhere.”
The Energy Sector Man: Vladimir Bogdanov
The Treasury Department said it was designating Vladimir Bogdanov “for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy.” Bogdanov is listed as the director general and vice chairman of the board of directors of Surgutneftegaz, an oil company first sanctioned in September 2014.
Members of the Russian government
The new sanctions list also includes members of the Russian government. Among the individuals of note are Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, who has been a fixture at National Rifle Association events and the subject of questions from lawmakers about his connection to the US gun lobby following reports by McClatchy that the FBI is investigating whether he funneled money to the NRA during the 2016 campaign. The Bank of Russia has not responded to requests for comment from Torshin. The NRA has insisted it did not use foreign funds for election-related purposes.
Also on the list is Viktor Zolotov, the director of the Federal Service of National Guard Troops, an internal security force that reports directly to the President. He’s a former bodyguard to Putin.
What’s the likely impact of the sanctions?
In part, they send a signal to other investors: Russia is not a safe bet.
“They certainly have gone after Deripaska in a big way, even targeting former partners (Vekselberg) who are not known to be in any way politically active,” said Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro-Advisory Ltd. “But apart from him, the rest can be said to be an expansion of the existing target categories, such as the state sector and state sector companies.”
The sanctioning, Weafer added, “sustains the uncertainty factor. Why was Deripaska targeted and who may be next? That will keep many foreign investors wary of Russian counter-party risk simply because they cannot be sure of who may be added next or why.”
CNN’s Matthew Chance and Deema Alfadl contributed to this report.