Task Force KleptoCapture

2022 US sanctions task force focused on Russia

Task Force KleptoCapture is a United States Department of Justice unit established in March 2022 with the goal of enforcing sanctions on Russian oligarchs in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[1][2][3]

Background

Dating back to the outbreak of the pro-Russian unrest in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, the United States has imposed numerous economic sanctions against the Russian government, military, and strategic sectors of the economy for its actions. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States imposed new sanctions against Russia. Existing sanctions were also strengthened.

President Biden's statements during the 2022 State of the Union speech

During his State of the Union Address that same year, U.S. President Joe Biden announced this effort:

Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who’ve bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more.

The United States — I mean it. The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs.

We're joining with European Allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We're coming for your ill-begotten gains.[4]

The day after Biden's speech, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the formation of Task Force KleptoCapture, an inter-agency effort.[5][6]

Structure

The leader of the Task Force was initially described as "a veteran corruption prosecutor" from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York assigned to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General's Office. On March 3, 2022, this prosecutor was revealed as Andrew Adams, who has previously worked as co-chief of the Southern District of New York's Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises. His previous work includes the prosecutions of thief in law Razhden Shulaya as well as the asset forfeiture case against Bitcoin money launderer Charlie Shrem.[7][8]

Others announced as part of the DOJ's team include deputy directors from the United States Department of Justice National Security Division and United States Department of Justice Criminal Division leading more than a dozen attorneys from those divisions, as well as the Tax Division, Civil Division, and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. The attorneys listed on KleptoCapture court filings are some of the most experienced prosecutors in the Justice Department.[9][10]

In addition, was also announced as incorporating officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Secret Service. The main goal of the task force is to impose the sanctions set against these Russian individuals to freeze and seize the assets that the U.S. government claimed were proceeds of their illegal involvement with the Russian government and the invasion of Ukraine.[11]

Activities

B-roll from Seizure of $90M Yacht of Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Vekselberg by Spain at U.S. Request
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland announces the seizure of the Motoryacht Tango

On March 11, 2022, United States President Joseph R. Biden signed Executive Order 14068, "Prohibiting Certain Imports, Exports, and New Investment With Respect to Continued Russian Federation Aggression," an order of economic sanctions prohibiting the trade in luxury goods.[citation needed]

In tandem, the Treasury specifically designated assets of Viktor Vekselberg worth an estimated $180 million: an Airbus A319-115 jet and the motoryacht Tango.[12] Estimates of the value of the Tango range from $90 million (U.S. Department of Justice estimate) to $120 million (from the website Superyachtfan.com).[13]

On March 25, 2022, an FBI Special Agent filed an affidavit in support of seizure of the Tango with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The affidavit warrant states probable cause to seize the Tango for suspect violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (conspiracy to commit bank fraud), 50 U.S.C. § 1705 (International Emergency Economic Powers Act), and 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (money laundering), and that the seizure is authorized by American statutes on civil and criminal asset forfeiture.[14][15]

On April 4, 2022, Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui signed an Order approving the seizure. Judge Faruqui concluded his order stating, "The seizure of the Target Property is just the beginning of the reckoning that awaits those who would facilitate Putin's atrocities. Neither the Department of Justice, nor history, will be kind to the Oligarchs who chose the wrong side. […] The Department of Justice's seizure echoes the message of the brave Ukrainian soldiers of Snake Island."[16]

The Civil Guard of Spain and U.S. federal agents of both the United States Department of Justice and United States Department of Homeland Security seized the Tango in Mallorca. A United States Department of Justice press release states that the seizure of the Tango was by request of Task Force KleptoCapture.[17][18][19]

On June 6, 2022, the United States was authorized to seize two of Roman Abramovich’s aircraft, a Boeing 787-8 and a Gulfstream G650ER worth more than $400 million. A United States press release states that the seizures were requested by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, working with Task Force KleptoCapture.[20][21]

On August 8, 2022, a U.S. federal magistrate judge signed an order authorizing the United States to seize the private airplane of Andrei Skoch, a sanctioned Russian oligarch who is a member of Russia's Duma. U.S. press releases indicated that the airplane is an Airbus A319-100 with tail number P4-MGU worth over $90 million, which had previously been blocked by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York led this investigation in partnership with the KleptoCapture Task Force.[22][23]

References

  1. ^ Beitsch, Rebecca (March 2, 2022). "DOJ launches team to enforce sanctions on Russian oligarchs". The Hill. Archived from the original on March 6, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  2. ^ Strohm, Chris (March 2, 2022). "DOJ's 'KleptoCapture' Unit Will Target Russian Oligarchs". Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 2, 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Lynch, Sarah N. (March 2, 2022). "U.S. launches 'KleptoCapture' task force aimed at Russian oligarchs". Reuters. Archived from the original on March 2, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  4. ^ Biden, Joseph R. (March 1, 2022). President Biden's State of the Union Address (Speech). Archived from the original on March 26, 2022. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  5. ^ "Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Announces Launch of Task Force KleptoCapture". Justice.gov. United States Department of Justice. March 2, 2022. Archived from the original on March 2, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  6. ^ "Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Visits Ukraine, Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Help Identify, Apprehend, and Prosecute Individuals Involved in War Crimes and Atrocities". www.justice.gov. June 21, 2022. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  7. ^ "Former Ceo Of Bitcoin Exchange Company Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Two Years In Prison For Helping To Sell Nearly $1 Million In Bitcoins For Drug Buys On Silk Road". Justice.gov. United States Department of Justice. December 9, 2014. Archived from the original on July 13, 2017. Retrieved April 5, 2022. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Adams of the Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case"
  8. ^ Cohen, Luc; Lynch, Sarah N. (March 3, 2022). "Veteran U.S. prosecutor to lead task force probing Russian oligarchs". Reuters.com. Reuters. Archived from the original on March 3, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  9. ^ "United States Obtains Warrant For Seizure Of Two Airplanes Of Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich Worth Over $400 Million". Justice.gov. June 6, 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  10. ^ "$90 Million Yacht of Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg Seized by Spain at Request of United States". Justice.gov. April 4, 2022. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  11. ^ Macias, Amanda; Schwartz, Brian (March 2, 2022). "Biden administration launches new 'KleptoCapture' task force to go after Russian oligarchs". CNBC. Archived from the original on March 2, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  12. ^ "Treasury Sanctions Kremlin Elites, Leaders, Oligarchs, and Family for Enabling Putin's War Against Ukraine". Treasury.gov. United States Department of the Treasury. March 11, 2022. Archived from the original on March 11, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  13. ^ https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy06502
  14. ^ "In the Matter of the Seizure of The Motor Yacht Tango, with International Maritime Organization Number 1010703". Justice.gov. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  15. ^ "Application for a Warrant To Seize Property Subject to Forfeiture" (PDF), In The Matter of the Seizure and Search of the Motor Yacht Tango, with International Maritime Organization Number 1010703 (Court Filing), D.D.C., vol. No. 1:22-sz-00005, no. Docket 1, Attachment 0, March 25, 2022, retrieved April 11, 2022 – via Recap (PACER current docket viewPaid subscription required)
  16. ^ "Order as to the Vessel Tango with International Maritime Organization Number 1010703" (PDF), In The Matter of the Seizure and Search of the Motor Yacht Tango, with International Maritime Organization Number 1010703 (Court Filing), D.D.C., vol. No. 1:22-sz-00005, no. Docket 7, Attachment 0, March 25, 2022, retrieved April 11, 2022 – via Recap (PACER current docket viewPaid subscription required)
  17. ^ "US seizes yacht owned by oligarch with close ties to Putin". AP NEWS. April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "La Guardia Civil incauta en Mallorca el yate de un oligarca ruso reclamado por EEUU". GuardiaCivil.es (in Spanish). Guardia Civil. April 4, 2022. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  19. ^ "$90 Million Yacht of Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg Seized by Spain at Request of United States". Justice.gov. April 4, 2022. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  20. ^ "United States Obtains Warrant For Seizure Of Two Airplanes Of Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich Worth Over $400 Million". Justice.gov. June 6, 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  21. ^ "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. A BOEING 787-8 DREAMLINER AIRCRAFT, BEARING TAIL NUMBER P4-BDL AND MANUFACTURER SERIAL NUMBER 37306, AND A GULFSTREAM G650ER AIRCRAFT, BEARING TAIL NUMBER LX-RAY AND MANUFACTURER SERIAL NUMBER 6417".
  22. ^ "United States Obtains Warrant for Seizure of Airplane of Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Andrei Skoch, Worth Over $90 Million". www.justice.gov. August 8, 2022. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  23. ^ "United States Obtains Warrant For Seizure Of Airplane Of Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Andrei Skoch Worth Over $90 Million". www.justice.gov. August 8, 2022. Retrieved August 9, 2022.

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