MEPs call for sanctions against Russian banker who threatened The Shift News

Over 20 MEPs from 14 countries have demanded sanctions against the banker who threatened The Shift News with a financially-crippling lawsuit for his involvement in the Troika Laundromat, that involved the movement of billions of dollars from Russia into the West to fund property and lavish lifestyles.

Russian banker Ruben Vardanyan, the former President of Russian bank Troika Dialog, was named in the letter given to the European Commission last week calling for sanctions against the banker, as well as Vladimir Romanov, the former owner of Lithuania bank Ukio.

MEPs urged the Commission to take immediate action to start the procedures necessary to place them under EU sanctions, as to well as calling for the set-up of an “EU-wide anti money-laundering supervisory authority”.

Initiated by Lithuanian MEP Vladimir Romanov, the letter was signed by MEPs from a number of countries including Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the UK.

Noting that the Troika Laundromat as well as other recent money laundering scandals have shown a number of EU vulnerabilities, the MEPs joined Baltic and Nordic regulators in their request for a union-wide anti-money laundering supervisory authority be set up as soon as possible.

A network of over 75 companies were set up by Troika Dialog and allegedly used to launder some of the money from fraud and a number of thefts that took place in Russia, including one uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.

Investigated and reported by the OCCRP and, the revelations involved not just wealthy Russians, but a number of Western Banks, and even Prince Charles – who says he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing.

A close friend of Vladimir Putin, Sergei Roldugin was shown to have received almost $69 million, $11.6 million of which should have raised a red flag and been reported to law enforcement, according to the findings by OCCRP (Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project).

Vardanyan maintains that he had no knowledge of any illegal operations or wrongdoing. He instructed his London-based lawyers to demand The Shift News remove an article reporting the findings of the OCCRP, threatening a law suit in the UK. Known as a SLAPP lawsuit, the threat to sue journalists in another jurisdiction is designed to financially cripple journalists since the cost of defence in another country would be prohibitive.

The Shift News refused to comply with the request to remove the article, and also published the contents of the letter.

Romanov, the other banker facing calls for sanctions against him accused journalists working on the story of working for the Americans, the Swedish, or “the devil,” OCCRP said.


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