U.S. Again Sanctions ‘Putin’s Chef’ for Election Interference

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration sanctioned nearly a dozen companies and individuals along with three planes and a yacht connected to one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest confidants to punish the country for interference in the 2018 U.S. elections.

The Treasury Department added two more employees of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency to its sanctions list. The organization and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin, were previously sanctioned for leading an interference campaign in the 2016 election that U.S. officials have said was intended to help elect President Donald Trump.

Treasury said in a statement Monday that in 2018, “there was no indication that foreign actors were able to compromise election infrastructure that would have prevented voting, changed vote counts, or disrupted the tallying of votes.”

The new Treasury action increases pressure on Prigozhin’s financial assets. In its statement, Treasury included photos of one of his private jets and the St. Vitamin, Prigozhin’s yacht.

Prigozhin has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” for his close relationship with the Russian leader. He was accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of bankrolling a broad, multimillion-dollar effort to help Trump win the 2016 election using fake social media accounts and staging rallies through a firm he controls, Concord Management and Consulting.

That case is now being prosecuted by the office of U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu in Washington.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has urged a reluctant Trump administration to continue punishing Russia over its meddling in the 2016 election. There are several bills in Congress with broad support to target Russian sovereign debt, its energy sector and financial institutions in an effort to force Trump’s hand.

The Treasury Department in April 2018 sanctioned more than two dozen Russian businessmen and companies over election interference.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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