A new task force created by the Biden administration to target Russian oligarchs is going after those "who have helped the regime responsible the invading of Ukraine", a senior Justice Department official stated Friday.
"Our success will consist in dismantling disruption and discomfort for these Oligarchs, Their Enablers, and Their Networks," the official stated when explaining the work of the KelptoCapture taskforce announced last week.
The official stated that these people have amassed enormous wealth through corruption, extortion and degrading the rule of law. These are corrupt billionaires who have done so much to conceal their assets."
The task force will focus on individuals and entities that are subject to Treasury Department sanctions. These sanctions freeze or block their access to assets. The Justice Department will also pursue criminal or civil charges in order to seize these assets.
This means that financial institutions, money transfer services and cryptocurrency exchanges will "willfully fail to maintain adequate Anti-Money Laundering Policies and Procedures" and allow "free flow of the oligarchs’ money," the official stated.
Money laundering, bank or wire fraud are possible criminal charges.
Andrew Adams, a former U.S. attorney in Manhattan who has been a corrupt prosecutor in the past, will oversee the task force.
The official stated that corporate shareholdings, bank account , yachts and airplanes, as well as jewelry are all on the table. We want to reduce funds that are used to support the Russian war machine and reward its enablers.
Nearly 900 Russian entities and individuals are listed on the U.S. sanctions list. The U.S. sanctions list includes more than 200 additional sanctions added last year. The task force will also pursue those who aid in the evasion of the sanctions.
Last week, federal prosecutors charged a U.S citizen, John Hanick with helping a Russian oligarch to set up and run a Russian cable television news network. According to court documents, Hanick was a member of Konstantin Malofeyev's finance team.
Hanick was charged in London and taken into custody. The U.S. seeks his extradition.
According to the official, the task force will pursue individuals and financial institutions who actively help to evade sanctions or that blindly move dirty money or stick their heads in the sane."
The U.S. has in the past accused Russian oligarchs, including using shell companies and secret bank accounts to hide their assets. The official stated that international outrage at the invasion of Ukraine led to unprecedented unity in cracking down on further violations.
"It is important that we are impactful and visible in our work. "The scale and speed of sanctions across the globe is unimaginable," said the official.