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U.S. Imposes Financial Sanctions On Belarusian Company

Belneftekhim's headquarters in Minsk (file photo) (epa) November 14, 2007 -- The U.S. Treasury has imposed financial sanctions on Belarus's largest oil and chemical company, stating that the conglomerate is controlled by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The move by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control freezes any assets under U.S. jurisdiction belonging to the Belarusian State Concern for Oil and Chemistry, also known as Belneftekhim. The sanctions also bar U.S. citizens from doing business with the company, and apply to its offices in Germany, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, China, and its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Belneftekhim USA.

The sanctions were imposed in line with an executive order issued by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006 allowing the Treasury Department to block the assets of people or companies considered responsible for human rights abuses or undermining democratic processes in Belarus.

The latest move "tightens sanctions against Lukashenka by imposing financial sanctions against a massive conglomerate under the regime's control," said Adam Szubin, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Since 2006, the Treasury has blocked Lukashenka's personal assets and those of 15 other high-ranking Belarusian officials.

The European Union has also cracked down on Belarus with financial sanctions and a travel ban on senior Belarusian officials, and has repeatedly accused Minsk of violating human rights. In June, the EU scrapped trade preferences for Belarusian exports on the grounds that the country violates labor rights.

(compiled from agency reports)

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