Two companies registered in Cyprus were sanctioned by the US for being “involved in a global arms network”, it emerged on Tuesday. Individuals linked to the companies have been charged for exporting weapons to Sudan and are wanted by the FBI.

Centuronic Ltc and S. Group airlines, both based in Paphos and established in 2018, were found to be front companies for Black Shield, “an ostensibly Iraq-based arms company”.

According to the US treasury’s office department of foreign assets control (OFAC) Black Shield is led by Lebanon-based Samer Rayya and Syrian Mohamad Majd Deiry. They are the director and secretary respectively for the Cyprus-registered company S. Group Airlines.

Both are wanted by the FBI and “are charged with conspiring to unlawfully export weapons and ammunition from the United States to Sudan”, OFAC said.

Both Rayya and Deiry have been sanctioned by the US.

Cyprus’ company registrar shows Rayya as the secretary for Centuronic Ltd along with Tatyana Protopovich as the director.

Black Shield appears to have used the Cyprus-based front companies along with Rayya Danismanlik, located in Turkey, to conduct their business. She too has also been sanctioned.

OFAC specified that Protopovich is a director of Centuronic Ltd, and as CEO of Rayya Danismanlik, Nora Yagmur in Turkey, has participated in attempts to procure arms.

The latest tranche of sanctions announced by OFAC late on Monday night, targets Belarusian sanctions evasion networks and “cogs in Russia’s war machine”.

It specified the Black Shield network specialises in buying and selling weapons and material, ranging from ammunition, small arms, specialised sniper equipment and silencers, to armoured vehicles, tanks, military helicopters, artillery, surface to air missiles and anti-tank missiles.

This also includes specialised military technology like night vision equipment. The network uses intermediary and front companies such as Centuronic Ltd and S. Group Airlines Ltd, both located in Cyprus, OFAC said.

Both companies are registered to ABC Business Centre, Flat 15, first floor, Charalampou Moyskou 20, Paphos 8010, Cyprus. Centuronic was established on March 23, 2018, while S. Group Airlines was established on April 23 of the same year.

In total, 10 individuals and 12 entities were sanctioned.

In a post on X, US Ambassador in Nicosia, Julie Fisher said the US and Cyprus “continue our shared efforts to oppose authoritarianism and Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine”.

Earlier this month, the Cabinet ratified a memorandum of cooperation between Cyprus’ police and the FBI, describing it as a significant development.

It institutionalises closer cooperation between Cyprus and the US “in efforts to combat money laundering and to effectively investigate cases involving financial crime and, by extension, prosecute those involved in them”.

The decision was seen as a public admission in a commitment to tackle sanctions, however sources raised concerns over pushback from certain lobby circles.

As a result of the latest sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.

Any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 per cent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

Financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action.