A total of 109 companies based in Cyprus are among those sanctioned by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, including gambling company Parimatch.
“This is an egregious mistake. We hope it will be corrected as soon as possible,” Nicholas Tymoshchuk, government affairs director for Parimatch Ukraine told the Cyprus Mail on Monday.
The sanctions this month have come in two tranches, one on March 10 and another on March 18. Zelensky said gambling companies in particular were targeted for financing Russian schemes.
“Our new sanctioning step against individuals and legal entities associated with the evil state. The relevant decree has been published. These are more than 280 companies and 120 people who, through gambling business schemes, worked against Ukraine, withdrew funds from our state and financed various Russian schemes,” he said in a statement on March 11.
“It took some time to prepare the decision. It has been thoroughly worked out and closes schemes worth tens of billions. And it is not the last such decision.”
The decision on March 10 affected 109 companies listed in Cyprus ranging from investment and consulting companies such as Intercorp Limited, Ericius Investments, game developer Weplay Media and gambling company Parimatch.
Among the sanctioned companies are also Antrum Ltd with the listed website https://pokermatch.com/ which returns an Access Denied notice.
The list includes individuals allegedly involved in the kidnapping of Ukrainian children, those who help support mercenaries fighting against Ukraine, and Russian athletes and other sporting representatives who have shown public support for the war.
The sanctioned individuals and entities were proposed by the National Security and Defence Council.
Tymoshchuk said the decision was “very painful” and they were “absolutely flabbergasted” by the developments.
The company responded to the sanctions with a notice that it has suspended activities in Ukraine and its platform in Ukraine is not available for customers. The company said it was working towards returning customers their money from their accounts in full while all partnership contracts have been suspended.
“There should be sanctions applied to companies that support Russia and Belarus but this does not apply to us. Since early last year, we severed all ties and revoked all licenses from these jurisdictions.”
Tymoshchuk added the company has donated over $12 million to programs supporting Ukraine’s military division and humanitarian efforts.
The Cyprus-based company operates internationally in countries including the UK where it has a partnership with four Premier League clubs Chelsea, Leicester City, Newcastle and Aston Villa.
As a result of the sanctions, the company’s assets in Ukraine have been blocked, its trading operations have been terminated in Ukraine and it is forbidden from withdrawing capital from Ukraine.
“It is very painful and unjust especially to the people in Ukraine who have lost their jobs in a time of war.”
Parimatch Ukraine said it was hoping for a review of the decision.
On March 18, Zelensky issued a new tranche of sanctions on 141 legal entities and 300 individuals, including Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad.