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After Maria Butina’s Arrest, Sen. Wyden Pushes Treasury to Investigate Ties Between Russia-Linked Gun and Ammo Manufacturers, and Russian Oligarchs

In a letter to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) pushed for the Treasury Department to investigate ties between Russian oligarchs and two Russia-linked U.S. gun and ammunition companies, TulAmmo USA and Kalashnikov Concern. Wyden also questioned whether the companies’ operations were in violation of existing Russia sanctions.

The NRA has hosted both companies at its annual conventions in recent years, even as the companies attracted scrutiny for their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs.

Kalashnikov Concern was featured as an exhibitor at the 2014 and 2015 NRA conventions, and accused Kremlin agent Maria Butina posted photos of the company’s exhibits while she attended both conventions. Kalashnikov Concern’s Florida factory is also reportedly under criminal investigation.

TulAmmo has undergone scrutiny because of its deep ties to a recently sanctioned Russian oligarch, Igor Rotenberg, and other sanctioned Russian entities. Despite this, the Russia-linked ammunition company was an exhibitor at this year’s NRA convention and has been at every NRA convention since 2011.

From Sen. Wyden’s letter to OFAC:

I am writing you to determine whether the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has investigated the relationships between the sanctioned Russian state-owned arms manufacturing industry and what appear to be Russian- linked United States arms manufacturers, and I am seeking more information about OFAC’s analysis of these relationships under your office’s ownership and control analysis, as well as the “50 Percent Rule.”

“… As part of the administration’s 11-page response to my initial inquiry, they noted that with regard to persons on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List) “the property and interests in property of entities directly or indirectly owned 50 percent of more, individually or in the aggregate, by one or more persons are automatically considered blocked, whether or not such entities appear on SDN List or in the annex to an executive order. …

It has been widely reported that Russia may have targeted the National Rifle Association to exert influence in American politics in order to advance Russian interests. For example, on July 16, 2018, a criminal complaint was unsealed charging Russian national Maria Butina with infiltrating a U.S. organization promoting gun rights at the direction of a previously sanctioned high-level Russian official. The high-level Russian official referenced in DOJ filings strongly matches the description of Alexander Torshin, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. In light of these allegations, the relationships between Mr. Torshin, other sanctioned Russian individuals and entities, and U.S.-based Russian-linked arms manufacturers merit further scrutiny, including an analysis of whether said companies are functionally managed, owned, or controlled by sanctioned persons.

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