The United States and its allies have imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
The Justice Department will investigate and prosecute individuals, banks, cryptocurrency exchanges and others who help wealthy Russians hide or launder their assets and luxury money, a senior department official said.
The actions will be carried out by a new task force dedicated to freezing or seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs and others subject to sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss the incident. unit work.
In a call with reporters Friday, the official provided the first glimpse into the inner workings of the group, called Task Force KleptoCapture, which was Announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland this month, following the February 24 invasion.
‘No stone unturned’
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest and prosecute those whose criminal acts allow the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” Garland said March 2. “Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable.”
Officials on the call cited a case recently indicted by federal prosecutors in New York as the type of work the new unit will do. The case, against former Fox News producer Jack Hanick, alleges he violated US sanctions by helping launch a Russian television network for Konstantin Malofeyev, a Russian business tycoon blacklisted by the US in 2014 for finance Russian separatism in Crimea.
Hanick was arrested last month in London, from where the United States is seeking to extradite him. Court records indicate that the charges against him were filed in secret in November and that an FBI investigation into his activities dates back at least a year.
The task force is bringing together prosecutors, agents, analysts and translators from divisions and offices across the department and will pursue appropriate charges to disrupt wealthy Russians and their enablers, the official said on the call.
A wide variety of assets could be frozen or seized, including real estate, corporate shares, bank accounts, yachts, planes, jewelry and works of art, the official said.
(Adds an example of cases that the working group will follow in the fifth and sixth paragraphs).