U.S. Bans Accounting Services to Russia in Added Sanctions

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. banned American accounting and consulting firms from working with Russia and…

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. banned American accounting and consulting firms from working with Russia and imposed its first sanctions on Gazprombank as part of a package of new penalties targeted at Moscow.

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The latest penalties also include new export controls on industrial goods, limits on three of Russia’s top state-controlled television stations and additional visa restrictions, according to a White House statement.

The U.S. and its allies are pushing to expand sanctions ahead of Russia’s May 9 Victory Day military parade marking the end of World War II in Europe. The celebration has become a touchstone of the Kremlin’s campaign to whip up public support for the invasion and is likely to feature a speech by President Vladimir Putin on Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine.

President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders met virtually Sunday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a symbolic nod to unity on the anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. The G-7 pledged to phase out or ban the import of Russian oil, a move already taken by the U.S., U.K. and Canada, which are less dependent on those shipments than Europe.

U.S. entities will be banned from providing accounting, corporate formation and management consulting services to any Russian entity, according to the White House. Legal services are not affected. New export controls will apply to industrial engines, bulldozers, boilers, motors, fans and ventilation equipment.

The U.K. cut Russia off from accessing its management consultants, accountants and public relations firms last week. The European Union has proposed a similar measure, but Hungary is blocking the group’s latest proposed sanctions package, which also would ban Russian oil imports.

The U.S. also is sanctioning eight executives from Sberbank and 27 from Gazprombank, the financial arm of energy giant Gazprom.

The Biden administration has previously avoided sanctioning Gazprombank, wary of disrupting energy exports to Europe. It’s now sanctioning the executives to signal that the firm isn’t a safe haven, a U.S. official said Sunday before the public announcement.

The U.S. will impose 2,600 visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials. The EU and U.S. are looking at whether to sanction a purported girlfriend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but there’s no decision to announce, the official said.

Also targeted by the U.S. measures are three Russian television networks: Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1, and Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company.

The U.S. official described the stations as propaganda arms of the Kremlin. The sanctions bar U.S. advertising and the supply of equipment, including cameras and lighting and microphones, the official said.

The sanctions would only be rolled back in consultation with Ukraine and part of an overall peace package, the official said.

(Updates to change source to White House statement in second and fifth paragraphs.)

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