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US charges Russian oligarchs, state-owned bank CEO, and US-based ‘facilitators’

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on Feb. 21, 2022. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Justice Department on February 22 announced enforcement actions in five separate federal cases against sanctioned Russian oligarchs and networks supporting Russia.

The actions, timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, include charges against Russian state-owned VTB Bank Chairman Andrei Kostin and two of his U.S.-based facilitators, the department said.

Charges were unsealed in New York against Kostin and facilitators Vadim Wolfson and Gannon Bond, who were arrested.

Kostin, who has been designated for sanctions by the United States, is the longtime president of VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest. He is charged with engaging in a scheme to evade sanctions and launder money to support two superyachts.

Kostin and the two facilitators are also accused of trying to evade sanctions related to a luxury home in Colorado.

Michael Khoo, a co-director of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force, told reporters that the announcement was meant to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “we’re not going away” and “we can play the long game as well,” so long as the war continues.

Other actions announced on February 22 include the indictment in Florida of pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko on charges linked to a scheme to violate and evade U.S. sanctions.

Also in Florida, federal agents filed a civil-forfeiture complaint against two luxury condominiums owned by sanctioned Russian businessman Viktor Perevalov, the co-owner of a Russian-based construction company.

The Justice Department also announced an indictment charging Vladislav Osipov with bank fraud in connection with operating a yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

Osipov, a Russian national, lives in Switzerland.

The indictment, unsealed in in Washington, identifies the superyacht as the Tango, and says it was the first belonging to a sanctioned Russian with close ties to the Kremlin to be seized at the request of the U.S. government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Justice Department also said Feliks Medvedev pleaded guilty earlier this month to helping launder more than $150 million through bank accounts he controls. Medvedev, a Russian citizen, lives in the U.S. state of Georgia.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department “is more committed than ever to cutting off the flow of illegal funds that are fueling Putin’s war and to holding accountable those who continue to enable it.”

The actions announced on February 22 “bring prosecutions against and seize assets of sanctioned enablers of the Kremlin and Russian military,” he said.

The KleptoCapture task force enforces the economic restrictions within the United States imposed on Russia and its billionaires. Over the past two years it has secured court orders for the restraint, seizure, and forfeiture of nearly $700 million in assets and has charged more than 70 people with violating sanctions and export controls.