The U.S. authorities have evidence that Russian oligarchs are trying to evade the sanctions imposed against Moscow, Andrew Adams, head of the new KleptoCapture task force at the U.S. Department of Justice, said.
The KleptoCapture group was created in mid-March to search for assets of Russian oligarchs.
Andrew Adams said that in some cases, even those oligarchs against whom sanctions have not yet been imposed are trying to move assets in anticipation of potential future sanctions.
According to him, when representatives of Russian elites try to hide yachts, planes or other movable property from prying eyes in countries where they rely on secrecy, they are faced with an “unprecedented high” level of international cooperation in the field of tracking income received dishonestly.
According to Adams, it is often difficult to track down the assets of oligarchs because they are hidden behind “layers of shell companies scattered around the world.” At the same time, the representative of KleptoCapture emphasizes, the U.S. authorities receive information from places that were previously considered confidential.
According to Adams, this is explained by the context and the general climate against the background of what is happening in Ukraine. “The level of common understanding of the goal is at an all-time high,” a representative of the task force said.
He declined to provide information about specific jurisdictions that provided the task force with information, or to name specific people under investigation.
According to him, the main task of the division is to detect the assets of Russian elites outside the Russian Federation. Adams stressed that the United States has ceased to be an attractive country for supporters of Putin’s government since about 2014 due to a number of sanctions imposed on Moscow over the annexation of Crimea.
Earlier, European countries discovered and arrested the yachts of a number of representatives of the Russian elite.
In particular, the Spanish government temporarily confiscated the $140 million Valerie superyacht associated with former KGB officer Sergei Chemezov, now the head of the state conglomerate Rostec. Last month, France detained a vessel belonging to the head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, and Italy arrested a yacht belonging to Russian billionaire Andrei Melnichenko.
The U.S. Department of Justice stated that the arrest of a number of courts was facilitated by information provided by American law enforcement agencies.
According to Adams, the task force will also monitor banks, cryptocurrency exchanges or other financial institutions that help sanctions violators by turning a blind eye to suspicious transactions.