The future of SMP Racing is unclear, following U.S. and European Union sanctions to the owners of the the Russian-backed organization due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
In a statement issued on Monday, the team says its European bank accounts have been frozen in what it considers an “unacceptable escalation of sanctions imposed by European Union and USA against some of Russian businessmen beyond political and economical areas.
“SMP Racing does not have any relation to Ukrainian events and does not have any political and economical goals,” the statement continued. “In this regard usage of sport by European Union and U.S. Department of State as an instrument of political blackmail is a surprise and disappointment.”
SMP Bank co-owners Boris Rotenberg and his brother Arkady were among 20 Russians handed sanctions by the U.S. State Department last month for their alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis. It led to the temporary suspension of Visa and Mastercard payment services to bank holders.
While payment services have since resumed, the team’s involvement in the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, plus supporting dozens of Russian drivers in motorsports worldwide is at the “risk of failure” due to the frozen European accounts.
“Usage of sport as an instrument of political battle never leads to effective settlement of political issues,” said SMP Racing Sport Director Sergey Zlobin in a statement.
“Speculations taken by leaders of USA and European Union just harm millions of fans all over the world and destroys all positive changes reached in sport cooperation with our European colleagues.
“We receive words of support from famous sport activists and drivers. I hope that Europe will remember the Olympic Charter and except sport from instruments of political battle.”
SMP is still set to compete in this weekend’s FIA WEC season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone with a pair of Oreca 03 Nissans in LMP2, along with a four-car Ferrari 458 Italia effort in the European Le Mans Series.