Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks to the press at the Justice Department on February 22. He announced Wednesday a new task force to capture assets of Russian oligarchs violating U.S. sanctions. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/UPI | License Photo
March 2 (UPI) -- The Justice Department unveiled Wednesday a new inter-agency task force created to track down and seize assets of Russia's richest oligarchs to enforce sanctions issued in response to the attack on Ukraine.
The announcement comes on the heels of President Joe Biden highlighting the effort in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
"I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: no more," Biden said in the speech. "The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs."
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Task Force KleptoCapture Wednesday, which will enforce the sanctions against Russia, which will include export restrictions and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed.
The sanctions were created to isolate Russia from global markets and impose serious costs for their war with Ukraine. It will focus on crimes by Russian officials, government-related elites and those who support them.
"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. "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."
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said one of the goals of the task force will be to deny hiding places for criminal activities.
"We will deprive you of safe haven and hold you accountable," Monaco said in a statement. "Oligarchs be warned: we will use every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds."
The Justice Department said Task Force KleptoCapture will work with a transatlantic task force announced by the leaders of the European Commission, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy.