Russian bank boss Kostin rejects US charge of sanctions violations

CEO of VTB bank Andrei Kostin attends official welcoming ceremony in Astana

(Reuters) - Andrei Kostin, CEO of Russia's No. 2 bank VTB, has rejected a U.S. charge that he illegally circumvented sanctions restrictions, calling accusations in a U.S. court indictment "groundless".

The United States on Feb. 22 charged Kostin and two U.S.-based associates with sanctions violations as part of a flurry of enforcement actions aimed at Russia two years after it invaded Ukraine.

Kostin, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2018, is accused of money laundering and sanctions violations through his maintenance of two yachts worth more than $135 million and a home in the resort town of Aspen, Colorado, according to an indictment in Manhattan federal court.

"I have never violated any, including American, legislation, or circumvented any sanctions," Kostin said in comments to Russian media. "And I urge all my partners not to look for or come up with any means of circumvention, but to build another world — independent of pressure from the political elite and U.S. military lobby."

Kostin said the U.S. establishment was unhappy that VTB had minimised the damage from sanctions imposed two years ago.

(Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Peter Graff)