WASHINGTON – The Justice Department said Wednesday it has indicted a Russian oligarch for violating U.S. sanctions and has taken additional measures to prevent Russian money laundering and disrupt online criminal networks in an attempt to impose fines in Moscow.
The United States has stepped up pressure on the Kremlin and some wealthy Russians in light of growing evidence of atrocities in Ukraine, and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the United States is assisting its European partners in investigating possible war crimes.
Oligarch, Konstantin Malofeev, 47, is widely regarded as one of Russia’s most influential business moguls – President Vladimir V. He has close ties to Putin – and is one of the most prominent conservatives in the country’s Kremlin-allied elite. (His surname is mentioned in the complaint as Malofeev.)
The measures demonstrated the reach of a task force set up last month to search and seize the assets of wealthy Russians who violated US sanctions on Russia, and the fines were aimed at enforcing the far-reaching economic sanctions that the United States has imposed on Europeans. Ally
“The judiciary will use every available tool to find you, to disrupt your plots and to hold you accountable,” Mr Garland said, adding that officials had moved “to try the criminal Russian activity”. He is the son of Victor F. Wexelberg points to the confiscation of $ 90 million yachts owned by him, who had previously been banned for Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mr Garland said law enforcement was pursuing Mr Maloffie for money laundering in violation of sanctions.
The criminal charge against Mr. Maloffie, which was sealed in federal district court in Manhattan, follows a lawsuit filed in March against John Hannick, a former employee of Fox News. Mr Hannick, an American citizen, was charged in 2013 with working for Oligarch and was arrested in London in February.
Judicial officials said in a statement on Wednesday that the charges against Maloev were “related to the operation of television networks in Russia and Greece and the appointment of Mr Hannik to work for him in an attempt to acquire a television network in Bulgaria.”
The U.S. Treasury Department, while imposing sanctions on Mr. Maloev in December 2014, called him “one of the main sources of funding for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea.”
Damien Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement Wednesday that the sanctions prevent Mr. Maloffiev from receiving payments or services from U.S. citizens or conducting transactions with his property in the United States.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
Missile attack. A missile strike on a crowded train station in eastern Ukraine has killed at least 50 people and injured nearly 100, according to Ukrainian officials who blamed Russia for hitting a large evacuation point in an attempt to flee before an expected step-up attack.
“He systematically violated those sanctions year after year,” Mr Williams said.
Mr Maloffie, who is believed to be in Russia, is still at large, the judiciary said. Mr Garland said the department had seized “millions of dollars” from a US financial institution which was believed to have returned to Mr Maloffie.
The judiciary has said it is taking action against online hate activity, including disrupting a bot network organized by the Russian government’s military intelligence agency.
Mr. Garland Hydra Market, a Russian-language darknet market that also announced the processing of drug sales, forged passports and other documents, and the theft of financial information. The department said it believes the market is responsible for 80 percent of cryptocurrency transactions on the Dark Web, and that approximately $ 5.2 billion in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies have been seized with the help of German authorities.
The announcement comes amid new sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies targeting some of Russia’s largest banks on Wednesday.
Jack Montagu Report from Washington, and Benjamin Weisser From New York.