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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Announces Launch of Task Force KleptoCapture

Task Force Will Surge Federal Law Enforcement Resources to Hold Accountable Corrupt Russian Oligarchs

Today, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, an inter­a­gency law enforce­ment task force ded­i­cat­ed to enforc­ing the sweep­ing sanc­tions, export restric­tions, and eco­nom­ic coun­ter­mea­sures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and part­ners, in response to Russia’s unpro­voked mil­i­tary inva­sion of Ukraine. Task Force KleptoCapture will ensure the full effect of these actions, which have been designed to iso­late Russia from glob­al mar­kets and impose seri­ous costs for this unjus­ti­fied act of war, by tar­get­ing the crimes of Russian offi­cials, gov­ern­ment-aligned elites, and those who aid or con­ceal their unlaw­ful conduct.

The Justice Department will use all of its author­i­ties to seize the assets of indi­vid­u­als and enti­ties who vio­late these sanc­tions,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”

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

Task Force KleptoCapture will be run out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and staffed with pros­e­cu­tors, agents, ana­lysts, and pro­fes­sion­al staff across the Department who are experts in sanc­tions and export con­trol enforce­ment, anti­cor­rup­tion, asset for­fei­ture, anti-mon­ey laun­der­ing, tax enforce­ment, nation­al secu­ri­ty inves­ti­ga­tions, and for­eign evi­dence col­lec­tion. It will lever­age all the Department’s tools and author­i­ties against efforts to evade or under­mine the eco­nom­ic actions tak­en by the U.S. gov­ern­ment in response to Russian mil­i­tary aggres­sion. The mis­sion of the Task Force will include:

  • 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. Where appro­pri­ate, infor­ma­tion gath­ered through Task Force inves­ti­ga­tions will be shared with inter­a­gency and for­eign part­ners to aug­ment the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of assets that are cov­ered by the sanc­tions and new eco­nom­ic countermeasures.

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.

Task Force KleptoCapture will be led by a vet­er­an cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tor assigned to the Deputy Attorney General’s Office from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. This pros­e­cu­tor has a long and suc­cess­ful track record of inves­ti­gat­ing Russian orga­nized crime and recov­er­ing illic­it assets. The Task Force lead­er­ship will include Deputy Directors from both the National Security and Criminal Divisions, and more than a dozen attor­neys from these divi­sions, as well as the Tax Division, Civil Division, and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country.

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.

The Task Force is autho­rized to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute any crim­i­nal offense relat­ed to its mis­sion, includ­ing con­spir­a­cy to defraud the United States by inter­fer­ing in and obstruct­ing law­ful gov­ern­ment func­tions; mon­ey laun­der­ing; false state­ments to a finan­cial insti­tu­tion; bank fraud; and var­i­ous tax offens­es. The max­i­mum penal­ty under sev­er­al of these author­i­ties is 20 years in prison.

Original source: The US Department of Justice