March 3, 2024

US investigators: How Russian oligarchs circumvent sanctions

From left: Roman Abramovich, Vladimir Putin, Oleg Deripaska, and Alexei Mordashov.
Alexander Hassenstein/UEFA/UEFA, Mikhail Svetlov, Seva Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

According to Reuters news agency, US investigators found evidence that Russian oligarchs tried to get around the sanctions.

Andrew Adams heads up the US Department of Justice’s new task force dealing with sanctioned individuals.

Adams said so-called “safe havens” – sites where assets are believed to be easy to hide – have helped provide US prosecutors with useful information.

American investigators found evidence that the Russian oligarchs are trying to circumvent the sanctions. In an interview with the news agency Reuters Even those not yet targeted are evading future sanctions by trying to transfer assets, the head of the Justice Department’s new task force, Andrew Adams, said. Adams heads the new task force, KleptoCapture, which was formed last month to target Russia’s oligarchy and put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Adams told the news agency, “There are movements – some known to the public – to move things like assets moved in the form of yachts and aircraft (…) to countries he feels are more difficult to investigate and those are freezing ‘despite attempts to hide their assets, oligarchs still face'” record levels of international cooperation. “Especially in the current context and climate … I think the level of shared ambition is at an all-time high,” Adams told Reuters.

The US Department of Justice did not immediately respond to the Insider’s request. The United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have drawn up multiple lists of sanctions against Russia, including Putin’s inner circle. The fortunes of the oligarchs are often difficult to track because they often hide behind companies that exist only to own assets and not to do business.

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But despite their reputation that some sites are “safe havens” to hide assets, they have provided information to US prosecutors. Adams did not provide details about the specific jurisdictions that provided them with the information. Nor did he reveal any names under investigation.

The task force is ready to enter into long-term confrontations with the oligarchy who want to prevent the United States from confiscating their assets. “We should expect wealthy plaintiffs to go to court,” Adams said. “We will be engaged in legal battles that will continue for a while.”

“The United States is not a place for oligarchs to collect their money,” Adams said in an interview with Reuters. “The most prominent assets are not in the United States,” he said. The superyachts belonging to the Russian oligarchs have already been confiscated in other European countries such as Italy, France and Spain. The UK recently seized a yacht, but its owner remains unknown. A cruise port operator is said to be at risk of violating sanctions rules for docking Roman Abramovich’s $600 million luxury yacht in Turkey.

This article was last updated on April 4, 2021. First published on April 3, 2021.

This text has been translated from the English by Lisa Ramos Dossi. You can find the original here.

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