DOJ to Crack Down on Russian Oligarchs And Their Networks

The Justice Department plans to investigate people, banks and cryptocurrency exchanges that have helped rich Russians hide or launder their money, Bloomberg reported Friday (March 11).

The actions will come from a new task force which will be focused on freezing and seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs.

This comes in the wake of the invasion Russia has been waging in Ukraine for weeks now.

The group will be dubbed Task Force KleptoCapture, and will “leave no stone unturned” in the investigations into activities that “enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable,” he said on March 2.

The task force will work with prosecutors, agents and analysts, among others, and will pursue “appropriate charges” and will try to disrupt Russian assets and their facilitators.

One case involved ex-Fox News producer Jack Hanick, which alleged that he violated U.S. sanctions as he helped launch a Russian television network for Russian business tycoon Konstantin Malofeyev, who was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2014 after financing Russian separatists in Crimea.

Hanick was arrested in London in February, and the U.S. is seeking to extradite him.

Read more: EU to Take Further Steps Against Russian Leaders, Belarus Banks

The report noted that the penalties have targeted over 100 members of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Assembly, which voted for the war in Ukraine and approved a measure criminalizing so-called “fake news” about the invasion in Russia.

The EU proposal also includes prohibiting three Belarus banks from the SWIFT payments network, putting more pressure on Moscow.