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FBI announces launch of special operation to hold corrupt Russian oligarchs accountable. Meet Task Force KeptoCapture (with a “K”).

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Today, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, a humorously named interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the US has imposed in response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said:

“The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war. Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable.”

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco added an ominous warning:

“To those bolstering the Russian regime through corruption and sanctions evasion: we will deprive you of safe haven and hold you accountable. Oligarchs be warned: we will use every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds.”

Task Force KleptoCapture will use in-house experts in sanctions and export control enforcement, anticorruption, asset forfeiture, anti-money laundering, tax enforcement, national security investigations, and foreign evidence collection. The stated mission of the Task Force includes:

  • Investigating and prosecuting violations of new and future sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine invasion, as well as sanctions imposed for prior instances of Russian aggression and corruption;
  • Combating unlawful efforts to undermine restrictions taken against Russian financial institutions, including the prosecution of those who try to evade know-your-customer and anti-money laundering measures;
  • Targeting efforts to use cryptocurrency to evade U.S. sanctions, launder proceeds of foreign corruption, or evade U.S. responses to Russian military aggression; and
  • Using civil and criminal asset forfeiture authorities to seize assets belonging to sanctioned individuals or assets identified as the proceeds of unlawful conduct.
  • The Task Force will be fully empowered to use the most cutting-edge investigative techniques — including data analytics, cryptocurrency tracing, foreign intelligence sources, and information from financial regulators and private sector partners — to identify sanctions evasion and related criminal misconduct.

Arrests and prosecution will be sought when supported by the facts and the law. Even if defendants cannot be immediately detained, asset seizures and civil forfeitures of unlawful proceeds — including personal real estate, financial, and commercial assets — will be used to deny resources that enable Russian aggression.

Task Force KleptoCapture will complement the work of the transatlantic task force announced by the President and leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Canada on Feb. 26, which has a mission to identify and seize the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies around the world.

The Task Force will include agents and analysts from numerous law enforcement agencies, including the FBI; U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service; Department of Homeland Security–Homeland Security Investigations; IRS–Criminal Investigation; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.