U.S. imposes sanctions on entities and individuals in Hong Kong and other locations for alleged involvement in assisting Russian defence procurement

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6th December 2023 – (Washington) The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced new sanctions targeting a network led by Belgian businessman Hans De Geetere, which is responsible for procuring military electronics for Russia. The network consists of nine entities and five individuals located in Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. This move comes as the United States intensifies its efforts to counter Moscow’s evasion of Western sanctions imposed in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

The U.S. Treasury Department revealed that the network, headed by Belgian businessman Hans De Geetere, is involved in acquiring electronics with military applications for Russian end users. It identified nine entities and five individuals based in various countries as part of this network, including Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed two indictments against De Geetere, related to his alleged scheme of exporting sensitive military-grade technology from the United States to end users in China and Russia. In addition, the Department of Commerce added De Geetere and five entities to its entity list.

Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, stated, “The United States and our allies remain focused on disrupting any attempts by Russia or its trusted agents to gain access to the critical inputs and technologies necessary to support Moscow’s defence industry and facilitate its brutal war in Ukraine.”

The Russian embassy in Washington has not yet responded to requests for comment, while De Geetere could not be reached for immediate comment. In the past, Belgian media quoted De Geetere denying allegations of sanctions evasion, asserting that they only exported low-level technology rather than top-level technology.

According to Washington, De Geetere has served as a long-time procurement agent for Russia and currently acts as the director for several companies in Belgium, Cyprus, and the Netherlands. He has coordinated the procurement of electronics for Russian customers, including high-priority semiconductor devices and drone engines sought after by Russia for its weapons programs, among other items.

The United States is intensifying efforts to crack down on Moscow’s attempts to evade Western sanctions, ensuring the enforcement of these measures. These sanctions have been imposed by the United States, European Union, and other Western nations in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They have targeted Russian banks and President Vladimir Putin, aiming to hold Russia accountable for the conflict that has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and the destruction of cities.

Alongside these measures, the U.S. Treasury Department has separately imposed sanctions on 11 entities and seven individuals, increasing pressure on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. These sanctions are a response to Lukashenko’s alleged suppression of democratic civil society, corrupt financial enrichment of his family, and complicity in Russia’s war in Ukraine.