The U.S. government has imposed punitive measures on an Uzbek company over its dealings with a sanctioned Russian firm that Washington says amounted to collusion in sanctions dodging.
This is a significant reputational blow to Tashkent, which is zealously wooing investors as it pursues an ambitious privatization campaign and strives to depict Uzbekistan as a reliable and safe investment destination.
It is the first time a Central Asian company has fallen under secondary sanctions since the U.S. and other governments around the world started punishing Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in February.
Uzbekistan’s Promcomplektlogistic Private Company “has actively supported” Russian company Radioavtomatika in its “effort to evade U.S. sanctions,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement published on June 28.
The U.S. government sanctioned Radioavtomatika, which “specializes in procuring foreign items for Russia’s defense industry,” in March.
“Promcomplektlogistic Private Company’s conduct has included providing electronic components such as microcircuits to Radioavtomatika,” the State Department said.
It “has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of Radioavtomatika.”
The designation locks Promcomplektlogistic out of the U.S. financial system, freezes any assets it has in the country and prohibits American companies from doing business with it.
A company official who picked up the telephone in Promcomplektlogistic’s office in Tashkent on June 29 claimed no knowledge of the measures, and firmly declined to comment to Eurasianet.
“I don’t know what you are asking about. I don’t understand you. No comment,” the official said, before abruptly hanging up.
Promcomplektlogistic offers ground transportation services, according to a copy of its company registration data published by Tashkent-based news outlet Gazeta.uz.
The form lists the company owner and manager as Oleg Grabilin, who also has interests in trade and logistics firms in Russia.
The restrictions on the Uzbek company came days after sanctions against the Russian financial sector scotched a multimillion dollar buyout of an Uzbek bank by a Russian bank.
Washington made it clear that the measures are intended to discourage other companies tempted to deal with sanctioned Russian firms.
“The designation of Promcomplektlogistic Private Company should serve as a warning to commercial stakeholders worldwide: If you do business with sanctioned entities or individuals, you risk exposure to sanctions,” the State Department said.