U.S. sanctions Russian, Belarusian for Guatemalan mining corruption

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Nov. 18 (UPI) — The U.S. State and Treasury departments sanctioned a Russian and a Belarusian for “acts of corruption that threaten the United States” in the Guatemalan mining sector.

Russian Dmitry Kudryakov and Belarusian Iryna Litviniuk allegedly led multiple bribery schemes over several years involving politicians, judges and government officials, the Treasury Department said Friday.

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“We stand with the people of Guatemala and support the protection of their country’s natural resources from external exploitation,” the Treasury Department’s Brian E. Nelson said in a statement. “We will use our tools to help ensure that corrupt profiteers face consequences for stealing from the Guatemalan people.”

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that sanctions against the two individuals and three associated entities “target an egregious Russian corruption network in order to disrupt its exploitative practices within the Guatemalan mining industry.”

According to the Treasury Department, “Litviniuk conducted corrupt acts in furtherance of Russian influence peddling schemes by unlawfully giving cash payments to public officials in exchange for support for Russian mining interests.”

Treasury said both Litviniuk and Kudryakov allegedly supported corruption “including the misappropriation of state assets, corruption related to government contracts, or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.”

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The entities sanctioned are Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel, Compania Procesadora de Niquel and Mayaniquel.

According to the Treasury Department, those companies function as subsidiaries of the Solway Investment Group, described by Treasury as a Russian enterprise that has exploited Guatemalan mines since 2011.

Kudryakov is the leader of Solway’s mining operations in Guatemala.

Solway Investment Group responded to the Treasury Department sanctions with a statement Friday. The company said it is immediately launching an investigation into the circumstances mentioned in the sanctions announcement.

“Solway’s subsidiaries Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel SA (CGN), Compania Procesadora de Niquel de Isabal SA (Pronico), are not and have never been controlled by the individuals mentioned as sanctioned. Both Dmitry Kudryakov and Iryna Litviniuk are holding management positions in the subsidiaries; both are immediately suspended from their positions till the situation is clarified,” the statement said.

The statement said Solway is not a Russian company and does not have any business relations with Russia.

“As early as 3 March 2022, Solway clearly stated its position against the war in Ukraine and announced its withdrawal from its two investments and operational projects in Russia which represented less than 10% of the global operations of the Group and did legally complete this process,” Solway’s statement added.

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The Treasury Department said human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies, have devastating impacts on individuals and weaken democratic institutions while undermining markets.

The United States seeks to impose consequences on corruption and those who violate human rights, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States.