U.S. targets Russian financial services sector, businessman Potanin By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian and U.S. state flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Region, Russia March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

By Daphne Psaledakis and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday targeted Russia’s financial services sector and Russian businessman Vladimir Potanin, increasing pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Washington imposed sanctions on Potanin, one of Russia’s richest men, as well as his wife, adult children, yacht and Interros, an investment holding company Potanin controls, the State Department said in a press release.

Potanin, 61, is the largest shareholder at Nornickel, which was not designated on Thursday. Interros owns 36% of Nornickel. Nornickel, the world’s top palladium and refined nickel producer, was one of the biggest prizes in the post-Soviet carve-up of Russian industry in 1990s.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Washington also imposed sanctions on Rosbank, a Russia-based commercial bank it said Potanin acquired earlier this year, along with 17 subsidiaries of Russian VTB, which was designated by Washington earlier this year.

“By sanctioning additional major Russian banks, we continue to deepen Russia’s isolation from global markets,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

“Today’s designations by the United States, together with actions taken by our international partners, will further inhibit the Putin regime’s ability to fund its horrific war against Ukraine.”

Nornickel declined to comment. Interros, Rosbank and VTB did not immediately reply to Reuters requests for comment. Russia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move freezes any U.S. assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing financially with them.

The State Department also imposed sanctions on members of the board of directors of state-owned enterprise Russian Railways, members of the government, including the governor of the Moscow region, as well as their family members.

Also designated were seven “Russia-appointed proxy authorities in Ukraine,” the State Department said.