Washington: British banks must severe ties with Kremlin-linked tycoons if they want continued access to American financial institutions, the US has said as it ratcheted up its efforts to block Russian industrialists from doing business in the West.
Sigal P Mandelker, a top US Treasury official in London to meet her counterparts, said on Tuesday that British banks could face "consequences" if they continued to carry out significant transactions on behalf of the 24 influential Russians sanctioned by Washington last week, the New York Times reported.
The list included Russian President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov and industrialists Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg.
"These are blocking sanctions," said Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.
"There of course would be consequences for UK financial institutions" that continued to do business with the Russians, he warned.
The warning, according to the daily, resonated in London as for decades it has served as a haven for Russia's wealthiest families. Russian investors own iconic British assets like the Chelsea Football Club and swaths of high-end London real estate and they support thriving networks of lawyers, financial advisers and estate agents.
Mandelker said there had been great unity on Russia among European nations since March 4 when former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal was found poisoned in southwestern England.
She said the US was consulting intensively with British financial institutions and oversight agencies as it prepared to impose the latest round of sanctions.
"We have very strong and close allies and partners in the UK," she said. "They understand clearly what the risks are. We continue to communicate those risks to them."
The new US sanctions expose financial institutions outside the US to penalties if they "knowingly facilitate significant financial transactions" on behalf of the listed Russian oligarchs.