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Published on February 24, 2024
U.S. Indicts Russian Oligarchs for Sanction Dodging and Money LaunderingSource: Unsplash/ Celyn Kang

The U.S. government imposed tough sanctions on Russian oligarchs and businessmen accused of evading sanctions and supporting Russia's war efforts. Over 500 new sanctions will be enforced on Friday to pressure Moscow amidst the conflict in Ukraine. The Treasury Department's actions were coordinated with the Justice Department's announcement of indictment charges against prominent Russian individuals, as reported by KSAT.

Russian banker Andrey Kostin, along with his associates Vadim Wolfson and Gannon Bond, faced sanctions for alleged under-the-table money movements and hiding assets. Indictments, initially reported by KENS 5, accuse them of using shell companies and secret deals, such as selling a luxury house in Aspen and maintaining expensive yachts, to launder about $12 million.

While Wolfson found himself in handcuffs on American soil, Kostin's fate is less certain, taking cover presumably in Russia, alongside allies like sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and metals tycoon Serhiy Kurchenko, who also faces indictment but chuckles at U.S. justice from behind Russian lines. The U.S.’s message to Putin and his cronies was crystal-clear as articulated by Michael Khoo, co-director of the KleptoCapture task force, who told reporters the U.S. can "play the long game as well," as stated by KSAT.

While the sanctions and indictments aim at the Kremlin's war chest, the IMF reports Russia's economy isn't exactly hugging the coastline of collapse but is instead boasting an "unexpectedly healthy pace." This tit-for-tat financial warfare emerges after President Biden pledged a decisive response to the demise of Putin critic Alexei Navalny, promising significant sanctions "against Putin, who is responsible for his death," chided the president, following a sit-down with Navalny’s relatives.

On a practical level, the Justice Department's efforts have meant a tightening of the noose around the war's lifeblood funds, with nearly $700 million in Russian assets either restrained, seized, or forfeited to date. Pouncing on luxury yachts and palatial condos, U.S. officials remain steadfast in their legal crusade, even managing to funnel over $5 million back across the Atlantic in support of Ukraine's defense, as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized the commitment "to cutting off the flow of illegal funds that are fueling Putin’s war", as obtained in a statement by KSAT.

The stateside rumble against Russian oligarchs continues to unfold with legal battles that promise to be long and arduous. However, each indictment and each snipped financial line signals that the U.S. isn't just rolling up its sleeves – it's already in the ring, poised to go another round.