Two Russian billionaires with fossil fuel interests in Australia have been slapped with sanctions after the federal government was questioned over why it had been slow to take action against these particular oligarchs.
Oleg Deripaska, who has a stake in a Gladstone alumina refinery, and Viktor Vekselberg, who has an interest in a Beetaloo Basin gas project, have now been sanctioned over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The two men were added to Australia’s sanctions regime on Thursday following media attention after it emerged they had been excluded from the list of 41 Russians who had been targeted.
The oligarchs and their wives and children who have been named by the federal government face penalties including travel bans and financial sanctions such as asset freezes.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne on Friday said the government had also placed fresh sanctions on 11 additional Russian government entities and banks.
Senator Payne said approximately 80 per cent of Russia’s banking assets were now covered by Australian sanctions, including all of the entities that handled the nation’s sovereign debt.
“The Australian government is deeply committed to imposing high costs on Russia,” she said in a statement.
“This includes by listing individuals of economic and strategic significance to Russia who have supported, and benefited from, the Putin regime.”
The banks named on Thursday include Sberbank, Gazprombank, VEB, VTB, Rosselkhozbank, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Alfa-Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow.
Senator Payne said the government would continue to move with international partners on co-ordinated sanctions to prevent the flow of funds to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Australian government reiterates our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine,” she said.
Western nations have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in the wake of Mr Putin’s violent military offensive against Ukraine, which the United Nations says has killed more than 700 civilians since February 24.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said more than 460 Russian entities and individuals had been named on the Australian sanctions regime over the conflict.