Russian nationals held for evading sanctions, crypto scam


Five Russian nationals, along with two oil traders, were charged in a New York court for evading global sanctions and money laundering using crypto. One of the culprits was arrested in Germany and another one in Italy, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The authorities allege that these Russian nationals were using shell companies and crypto transactions to illegally obtain American military technology and oil from Venezuela circumventing US sanctions. While the amount or crypto used in the scheme to smuggle military technology and oil was not disclosed, US authorities revealed the identities of suspects.

​​According to the press release, the federal court of Brooklyn, New York charged five Russian nationals — Yury Orekhov, Artem Uss, Svetlana Kuzurgasheva, also known as “Lana Neumann,” Timofey Telegin, and Sergey Tulyakov with global procurement, smuggling and money laundering network charges. Furthermore, the court charged the oil traders — Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce, also known as “Juanfe Serrano” and Juan Carlos Soto, for brokering illicit oil deals for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, as part of the scheme.

“As alleged, the defendants were criminal enablers for oligarchs, orchestrating a complex scheme to unlawfully obtain US military technology and Venezuelan sanctioned oil through a myriad of transactions involving shell companies and cryptocurrency. Their efforts undermined security, economic stability and rule of law around the world,” stated United States Attorney Breon Peace. The attorney added that the authorities will “continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those who fuel Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, evade sanctions and perpetuate the shadowy economy of transnational money laundering.”

According to the European Commission’s financial services chief Mairead McGuinness, the US authorities are already in sync with the European Union (EU) on the need to tighten global crypto regulations. The renewed cooperation comes in the wake of the updated sanctions against Russia imposed by the EU.

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