US launches task force to pursue ‘corrupt Russian oligarchs’

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the launch on Wednesday of a multi-agency task force to pursue “corrupt Russian oligarchs” and violators of sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions,” Garland said in a statement announcing the launch of “Task Force KleptoCapture.”

“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,” Garland said.

US President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, warned Russia’s billionaires that the task force would “find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets.”

“We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” he said.

Garland said the task force would be made up of more than a dozen prosecutors from the National Security and Criminal Divisions of the Justice Department as well as assets from other law enforcement agencies.

It will be led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and include agents and analysts from the FBI, the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service.

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

Garland said Task Force KleptoCapture will work with the transatlantic task force announced by the United States and leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada in late February.

It will combat efforts to undermine restrictions taken against Russian financial institutions and target the use of cryptocurrency to evade US sanctions.

“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,” Garland said.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

Planet Today

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