U.S. Moves To Seize Millions From Putin Linked Russian Oligarch

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“Federal prosecutors in New York announced Wednesday they were moving to seize more than $5.3 million from a US bank account belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev,” CNN reports, based on revelations in court documents. Malofeyev and associates of his have been repeatedly sanctioned by the United States, including in connection to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In addition, this isn’t the first time assets associated with Malofeyev have been seized by authorities in the U.S. In April, Malofeyev was charged “with conspiracy to violate United States sanctions and violations of United States sanctions in connection with his hiring of an American citizen, Jack Hanick, to work for him in operating television networks in Russia and Greece and attempting to acquire a television network in Bulgaria,” a New York U.S. Attorney’s office press release explained. The sanctions Malofeyev was charged with violating in that context were connected to earlier Russian actions against Ukraine, and U.S. authorities also announced the seizure of a $10 million investment Malofeyev made in a U.S. bank, which Malofeyev and associates conspired to transfer — in violation of U.S. sanctions — to a business associate in Greece.

Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, explained that “Malofeyev is closely tied to Russian aggression in Ukraine, having been determined by OFAC to have been one of the main sources of financing for the promotion of Russia-aligned separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine. The United States sanctions on Malofeyev prohibit him from paying or receiving services from United States citizens, or from conducting transactions with his property in the United States.” Malofeyev, meanwhile, was apparently sanctioned in his personal capacity by the United States again in April of this year.

There’s been a rigorous worldwide campaign to undercut the free flow of funds in circles of wealthy Russians tied to Putin. This month, a judge signed off on the U.S. government seizing two high-dollar airplanes worth a combined total of over $400 million and under the apparent control of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Aircraft originating in the U.S. or featuring a greater than 25 percent portion of “controlled U.S.-origin content” and that are formally tied to or controlled by Russia or a Russian national through an array of means must be covered by special licensing by U.S. authorities before getting exported or reexported to Russia, a Commerce Department document explains. That means flying affected planes to Russia without that licensing isn’t allowed, but that’s what Abramovich did. Among other moves, the U.S. also seized a pricey yacht tied to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. It’s known as the Tango and measures some 254 feet, and a website called Superyachtfan.com pinned its worth at $120 million.

The U.S. is also continuing its direct support of Ukraine amid its continuing conflict with Russia. President Joe Biden spoke directly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again on Wednesday. In a follow-up statement, Biden outlined how the U.S. would be providing an additional $1 billion worth of defense assistance for Ukraine, including “additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems that the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbas.”

Russia is continuing its attempts to completely take over Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which comprise the Donbas. “Russia’s combat force in the Donbas is highly likely operating in increasingly ad hoc and severely undermanned groupings,” a U.K. defense ministry update said Thursday. “As claimed by the Ukrainian authorities, some Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) – typically established at around 600 to 800 personnel – have been able to muster as few as 30 soldiers.”