The United States on Wednesday, 12 Apr 2023 , imposed sanctions on a Hungary-based bank linked to Russia, marking a new low point in Hungary’s relationship with Washington. Three current or former executives of the bank Russian citizens Nikolay Nikolayevich Kosov and Georgy Nugzarovich Potapov as well as Hungary national Imre Laszloczki were designated for sanctions.
Sanctions Imposed On Georgy Nugzarovich Potapov
The U.S. Treasury Department announced the penalties, which will target the International Investment Bank (IIB), a controversial institution located in Budapest with ties to the Russian state. The bank’s presence in Hungary has drawn the ire of Western officials, who fear it could be used for Russian intelligence operations inside Europe.
In addition to the broader IIB sanctions, the U.S. will also penalize three individuals affiliated with the bank’s leadership — former board chair Nikolay Kosov, a Russian citizen, and two current senior management officials, Imre Laszlóczki, a Hungarian, and Georgy Potapov, a Russian.
A Treasury Department statement said the bank “enables Russia to increase its intelligence presence in Europe, opens the door for the Kremlin’s malign influence activities in Central Europe and the Western Balkans, and could serve as a mechanism for corruption and illicit finance, including sanctions violations.”
At a news briefing in Budapest, the U.S. ambassador, David Pressman, said Hungary’s government had ignored pleas from multiple U.S. administrations to withdraw its stake in the bank.
“The presence of this opaque Kremlin platform in the heart of Hungary threatens the security and sovereignty of the Hungarian people, their European neighbors and their NATO allies,” Pressman said. “Unlike other NATO allies previously engaged with this Russian entity, Hungary has dismissed the concerns of the United States government regarding the risks its continued presence poses to the alliance.”
Pressman had earlier raised concerns over intensifying anti-American rhetoric among some leading Hungarian politicians and in the government-aligned media. The ambassador has suggested that the hard-right administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orban — widely considered Putin’s strongest advocate in the EU — was borrowing from “Russian propaganda” when discussing the war in Ukraine and was dividing NATO’s unity in its support of Kyiv.