Attorney General Merrick Garland charged Russian national Konstantin Malofeyev with violating sanctions first imposed on him in 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice said in an indictment unsealed on Wednesday. File Pool Photo by Carolyn Kaster/UPI | License Photo
April 6 (UPI) -- A Russian national has been charged with violating U.S. sanctions first imposed in 2014 over Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
An indictment against Konstantin Malofeyev was unsealed in the Southern District of New York, charging him with conspiracy to violate sanctions and violations of U.S. sanctions, according to a release from the Justice Department.
The 47-year-old is charged with hiring American citizen Jack Hanick, who he allegedly conspired with to move a $10 million investment out of a Texas bank. The money had been frozen after Malofeyev was declared a Specially Designated National in 2014 by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Along with the indictment, the United States issued a seizure warrant for Malofeyev's American investments.
The indictment also accuses him of hiring Hanick to operate television networks in Russia and Greece and attempting to acquire a television network in Bulgaria. He arranged for Hanick's work visa in Russia and paid for his house, violating sanctions.
The Justice Department contends that Hanick was also charged with concealing Malofeyev's identity as the true intended buyer in the deal for the Bulgarian television network.
"Konstantin Malofeyev is closely tied to Russian aggression in Ukraine, having been determined by OFAC to have been one of the main sources of financing for the promotion of Russia-aligned separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine," said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement.
"The United States sanctions on Malofeyev prohibit him from paying or receiving services from United States citizens, or from conducting transactions with his property in the United States. But as alleged, he systematically flouted those restrictions for years after being sanctioned. The indictment unsealed today shows this office's commitment to the enforcement of laws intended to hamstring those who would use their wealth to undermine fundamental democratic processes."
Each of the two sanctions charges in the indictment carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Malofeyev remains at large and is believed to be in Russia, according to the Justice Department. There is a warrant for his arrest.
"Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev played a leading role in supporting Russia's 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine, continues to run a pro-Putin propaganda network, and recently described Russia's 2022 military invasion of Ukraine as a 'holy war,'" said FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll.
"The FBI works tirelessly to protect our national interests, and we will continue to use all the resources at our disposal to aggressively counter Russia's malign activity around the world."
The charges against Malofeyev are the first brought by the Justice Department against any Russian oligarch since Ukraine was invaded.