February 23, 2024

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The United States is resorting to new ways to punish the Russian oligarchy for the war

The United States is resorting to new ways to punish the Russian oligarchy for the war

Washington (AFP) – The United States has launched an aggressive new campaign to inflict pain on the Russian economy and especially the oligarchs, with the intent of thwarting the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

From the Treasury to the Justice Department, U.S. officials will focus on efforts to legally liquidate Russian oligarchs’ assets, expand financial penalties for those who facilitate sanctions evasion, and close loopholes in the law that allow oligarchs to use shell companies. Move through the US financial system.

Andrew Adams, who heads KleptoCapture The task force, designed to enforce economic restrictions within the United States imposed on Russia and its billionaires, told The Associated Press that the group is prioritizing its efforts to identify those who help Russians evade sanctions and violate export controls.

“These illicit procurement networks will continue to eat an ever-increasing amount of our bandwidth,” said Adams, who is also the acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

To date, more than $58 billion in sanctioned Russian assets have been frozen or frozen worldwide, according to a report released last week by the Treasury Department. This includes two luxury yachts worth $300 million each in San Diego and Fiji, and six properties in New York and Florida worth $75 million owned by sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg..

The United States began attempts to punish its accomplices and oligarchic wealth managers – In the Vekselberg case, Vladimir Voronchenko was indicted by a New York federal court after he helped preserve the Vekselberg property. He was charged in February with conspiracy to violate and evade US sanctions.

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The issue is coordinated by the KleptoCapture Group.

“I think it can be very effective for facilitators to be punished,” Adams said, describing them as “professional mediators at evading penalties.”

A February study led by researchers from Dartmouth University showed that targeting a few key wealth managers would do more harm to Russia than punishing the oligarch individually.

Further attempts to damage the Russian economy will come from efforts to liquidate yachts and other property belonging to Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin, and monetize them for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has long called for the transfer of Russian assets to Ukraine, and former Biden administration official Dalip Singh Senate Banking said The February 28 Commission said the seizure of Russian assets owned by billions by the United States is “something we must pursue”.

Singh suggested that the US should “use the reserves we have frozen at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, transfer them to Ukraine and allow them to put them up as collateral to raise funds”. He ran the White House’s Russia sanctions program while he was the national security adviser to the international economy.

Adams said the KleptoCapture staff is continuing efforts to sell Russians’ yachts and other property, despite legal difficulties to turn the off-limits properties into forfeited assets that the government can take and sell for Ukraine.

He emphasized that the United States would operate under the rule of law. “Part of what that means is that we will not take assets that have not been fully forfeited through judicial process and begin to forfeit them without legal basis,” Adams said.

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He added that the task force had been “successful in working with Congress and working with people around the executive branch in obtaining authorization to transfer some of the seized funds to the State Department.”

The Treasury Department said Thursday that the government is “clearing the way” for $5.4 million in funds reserved to be sent as foreign aid to Ukraine.

In addition, officials say strengthening laws that serve as loopholes for penalty evaders will also be a priority across federal departments.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is part of the Treasury Department, is expected to Subtract the rules To address the use of the US real estate market for money laundering, including the requirement to disclose true ownership of the property.

The new real estate rule is long overdue, said Stephen Tian, ​​director of research at the Yale Institute for Executive Leadership, which tracks companies pulling out of Russia.

I would like to note that the matter is not limited to the Russian oligarchs. As you know, the real estate market is using shell companies in the United States, period,” Tian said.

Erica Hanischak, director of government affairs for the FACT Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes corporate transparency, urged the administration to roll out the rule by late March, when the US hosts its second democracy summit with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands. South Korea and Zambia.

“We view this as an opportunity for the United States to show leadership in not only addressing corrupt practices abroad, but in looking into our own backyard and addressing the holes in our system that facilitate corruption internationally,” she said.

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