Ministry of Justice accuses Russian government of violating sanctions

The US Department of Justice said, on Wednesday, that it has charged a Russian governor with violating US sanctions, and revealed additional measures aimed at combating Russian money laundering and disrupting online criminal networks in an attempt to impose financial sanctions on Moscow.

The moves came as the United States ramped up pressure on the Kremlin and some of the richest Russians in light of mounting evidence of atrocities in Ukraine and as Attorney General Merrick Garland said the United States was helping its European partners investigate possible war crimes. .

The oligarch, Konstantin Malofeev, 47, is widely considered one of Russia’s most influential business tycoons – and is said to have deep ties to President Vladimir Putin – and is among the most prominent conservatives in the country’s Kremlin-aligned elite. (The indictment makes his nickname Malofeyev).

The actions showed the reach of a task force set up last month to find and confiscate the assets of wealthy Russians who violate US sanctions on Russia, and the sanctions appear to be aimed at enforcing the far-reaching economic sanctions imposed by the United States along with Europe. allies.

“The Department of Justice will use every tool available to find you, disrupt your plots, and hold you accountable,” Mr. Garland said, adding that officials had moved to “pursue Russian criminal activity.” He noted this week the seizure of a $90 million yacht owned by Victor F.

Mr. Garland said law enforcement is prosecuting Mr. Malofeev for illegally diverting money in violation of sanctions.

The criminal charges against Malofeev, which were revealed in federal district court in Manhattan, follow an indictment filed there in March against former Fox News employee John Haneke. Mr Hanick, a US citizen, is accused of working for the oligarch from 2013 to 2017, and was arrested in February in London.

Justice Ministry officials said in a statement on Wednesday that the charges against Malofeev relate to his employment of Mr. Hanek “to work with him in operating television networks in Russia and Greece and attempting to acquire a television network in Bulgaria.”

The US Treasury, when imposing sanctions on Malofeev in December 2014, described it as “one of the main sources of funding for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea”.

Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement on Wednesday that the sanctions prevented Malofeev from paying or receiving favors from US citizens, or from conducting transactions with his property in the United States.

“He has systematically violated these restrictions for years,” said Mr. Williams.

The Justice Ministry said Malofeev, who is believed to be in Russia, remains at large. Mr. Garland said the department had seized “millions of dollars” from a US financial institution believed to belong to Malofeev.

The Justice Department also said it was taking steps to counter nefarious activities on the Internet, including disrupting a bot network organized by the Russian government’s Military Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Garland also announced the takeover of Hydra Market, a Russian-language dark market that handles sales of drugs, fake passports and other documents, and stolen financial data. The administration said it believes the market accounts for 80 percent of cryptocurrency transactions on the dark web, and that nearly $5.2 billion in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been seized with the help of German authorities.

The announcement came in conjunction with new sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies on Wednesday targeting some of Russia’s largest banks.

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