14 июня 2024
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Kazakh Company Sanctioned Over High-Tech Gear Supply to Russia

Is the "false transit" scheme still effective?

Kazakh Company Sanctioned Over High-Tech Gear Supply to Russia

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The Kazakhstan-based company KBR Tekhnologii was added to the US sanctions list for its involvement in supplying high-tech equipment to Russia, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department from June 12.

According to a “false transit” scheme revealed in a joint investigation with Vlast in February, KBR Tekhnologii was used as an instrument to circumvent sanctions against Russia that western countries established in an effort to thwart the Kremlin’s war of invasion in Ukraine.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) probe uncovered that the Kazakhstan-based company ordered millions of dollars-worth of high-tech equipment for semiconductor production and other items from Europe, which were then delivered to Belarus for temporary storage. In their investigation, journalists obtained a letter in which the KBR Tekhnologii instructed the Belarusian warehouse to ship some of these items directly to Russia, never reaching Central Asia.

Erlend Björtvedt, at the risk advisory firm Corisk, explained to OCCRP, Buro Media, and Verstka that trading companies in Central Asia “act as middlemen in the trade but the sanctioned goods are not actually routed physically via those countries."

Russian customs data suggests this scheme enabled Russian companies with contracts in the military-industrial complex to obtain sanctioned high-tech goods totaling approximately $5.9 million.

In May, KBR Tekhnologii changed ownership. Dias Tugunbaev became its new director, replacing founder Zhanat Ibrayev. The company remains active: This year, it paid 58.4 million tenge (around $130,000) in taxes, more than in the previous two years.