US Treasury Department sanctions Russian with Maltese passport, citizenship to be revoked

Last Updated on Friday, 1 April, 2022 at 7:38 pm by Andre Camilleri

The US Treasury Department has sanctioned a Russian individual who has a Maltese passport and the Maltese government is set to revoke their citizenship.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in a statement, said that it “is continuing to impose severe costs on the Russian Federation for its unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine by targeting operators in the Russian technology sector to prevent it from evading unprecedented multilateral sanctions and procure critical western technology.”

The statement reads that Moscow-based OOO Serniya Engineering (Serniya) “is at the centre of a procurement network engaged in proliferation activities at the direction of Russian Intelligence Services. This network operates across multiple countries to obfuscate the Russian military and intelligence agency end-users that rely on critical western technology.”

Among the many others who are mentioned, the OFAC statement lists one person who is believed to have a Maltese passport.

The OFAC statement reads that Evgeniya Vladimirovna Bernova (Bernova), an associate of the Serniya network, operates Malta-based Malberg Ltd (Malberg) “though a multinational web of shell companies. Malberg has worked to deceptively acquire dual-use equipment on behalf of Russian end-users. Bernova’s network includes Malberg’s Director, Nikita Aleksandrovich Sobolev, UK-based Djeco Group LP, Malta-based Djeco Group Holding Ltd, Malta-based Maltarent Ltd, and France-based SCI Griber. In addition, Moscow-based Sernia-Film Co Ltd, where Bernova has served as a director, has facilitated the export of equipment by Malberg to intended government end-users in Russia.”

“OFAC is designating Malberg pursuant to E.O. 14024 for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of the Russian Federation (GoR). OFAC is designating Bernova for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the GoR, Bernova and Nikita Aleksandrovich Sobolev for being leaders, officials, senior executive officers, or members of the board of directors of Malberg, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 14024.”

The Maltese government issued a statement following this stating that it will start the process to revoke the citizenship of a person who has been sanctioned, and while it did not mention who the person whose citizenship will be revoked is, it is believed that Bernova has a Maltese passport. 

The Maltese government said that “further to the Guidance Note on the listings by OFAC of Maltese individuals and entities issued by the Sanctions Monitoring Board on 31 March 2022, the Maltese Government is initiating the process of deprivation of Maltese citizenship of a person that appeared on the sanctions as published by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control involving Maltese legal and natural persons. In his capacity as the responsible minister for matters relating to Maltese citizenship, the deprivation process is being initiated by the Minister for the Interior, Security, Reforms and Equality.”

“This is being done in accordance with the Maltese Citizenship Act and the respective Subsidiary Legislation, as these provide that the responsible minister may deprive persons who have been registered or naturalised with Maltese citizenship in those circumstances established by the same legal provisions.”

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