Image: Daybreak Games
The United States imposed another round of sanctions on Russian oligarchs in early April in retaliation for alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Viktor Vekselberg and his more than $1.5 billion in assets are one of the sanctions' targets. Vekselberg is the owner and president of Renova group, a Russian investment firm connected to a broad range of industries, including mining, manufacturing, and technology.
That might be bad news for Daybreak Game Company, the company behind Everquest and H1Z1, formerly Sony Online Entertainment (SOE).As first reported by Massivelyop (MOP), a site dedicated to reporting on massively multiplayer role-playing games, Renova is the parent company of Columbus Nova, which is allegedly part owner of Daybreak. In a strange twist, and despite a mountain of evidence, Daybreak has denied any connection to the Russian-backed company.Daybreak has good reason to distance itself from Columbus Nova. “You have to cut all ties,” William Courtney, a Russian diplomacy expert and adjunct senior fellow with the RAND Corporation, told me over the phone. “You can’t have any dealings with [sanctioned companies]whatsoever…if they want to continue to do business in the United States.”The US Department of the Treasury has given American companies until June 5 to cut all ties with people and businesses affected by the new round of sanctions. “If it infringes on the sanctions, then it’s in violation of US law,” Courtney said.That means any lingering connection to Columbus Nova could leave Daybreak Game Company open to fines, prosecution, and jail time for its leadership. The sanctions have caused tumult in the aluminum industry, for example, as US companies have rapidly backed away from Russian-owned United Company Rusal, a large supplier of aluminum.To be clear, Renova Group and Columbus Nova have not been tied directly to any alleged Russian hacking of the US election. This recent round of sanctions is broad and targeted oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The US Treasury placed both Vekselberg and Renova on the list. Columbus Nova is Renova’s only American subsidiary and Andrew Intrater, its CEO, donated $250,000 to Trump’s election campaign