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FBI Director to disrupt and prosecute the underground economy of Russian Oligarchs

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

The FBI Director Christopher Wray along with the Justice Department's Department's Klepto Capture Task Force, charged nearly a dozen people. Tireless in their efforts to identify, locate and bring to justice those whose illegal acts undermine the rule of law.

Venezuela Politica

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges and arrests in two cases involving oil export violation schemes and military technology to aid the Russian military.

In two separate cases, two companies were charged and half a dozen people arrested for alleged illegal sale and export of powerful dual-use technologies.

In separate charges unsealed today at the US Attorneys' Offices for the Eastern District of New York and the District of Connecticut, and with the support of the Department's Klepto Capture Task Force , the Justice Department charged nearly a dozen people and various corporate entities of participating in illegal schemes to export powerful civil-military dual-use technologies to Russia, some of which have been recovered on battlefields in Ukraine, while other nuclear proliferation technology was intercepted before reaching the ground. Russian.

In the Eastern District of New York, five Russian nationals and two Venezuelan oil brokers are charged in an indictment unsealed today for their alleged involvement in a global sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme.

One defendant was arrested on October 17 in Germany and another defendant was arrested on October 17 in Italy, both at the request of the United States. The defendants allegedly obtained military technology from US companies, smuggled millions of barrels of oil, and laundered tens of millions of dollars for Russian industrialists, sanctioned entities, and the world's largest energy conglomerate.

Furthermore, in the Connecticut District Court, an indictment was opened charging four individuals, three of whom were arrested by the Latvian authorities on October 18 and one by the Estonian authorities on June 13 (a order of the United States) and two companies in Europe for violating US export laws by attempting to smuggle into Russia an export-controlled dual-use item, a computer-controlled high-precision grinding machine, commonly known as as "template grinder". This item is subject to export control for use in nuclear proliferation and defense programs.

“These charges reveal two separate global schemes to violate US export and sanctions laws, including the shipment of sensitive military technologies from US manufacturers, including the types found in Russian weapons platforms seized in Ukraine, and the attempt to re-export a machine system with potential application in nuclear proliferation. and defense programs to Russia,” said US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“As I have said, our investigators and prosecutors will be tireless in their efforts to identify, locate and bring to justice those whose illegal acts undermine the rule of law and allow the Russian regime to continue its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

"This week's indictments and arrests highlight the FBI's work to counter Russia's blatant evasion of US sanctions and violation of export regulations," said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

"The FBI, along with our U.S. and international partners, will continue to aggressively disrupt illegally obtained oil procurement, money laundering, and military technology from U.S. companies in support of Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine."

According to court documents, the following people were charged:

1) Yury Orekhov, 42, a Russian citizen residing in Germany;

2) Artem Uss, 40, from Moscow;

3) Svetlana Kuzurgasheva aka Lana Neumann, 32, from Moscow;

4) Artem Uss, 39, from Moscow; Y

5) Sergey Tulyakov, 52, from Moscow

Russian oligarch's yacht seized by DOJ's 'KleptoCapture' task force

Also charged are Venezuelans Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce, alias Juanfe Serrano, and Juan Carlos Soto, who allegedly negotiated illicit oil deals for Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), the Venezuelan state oil company, as part of the scheme. On October 17, Orekhov was arrested in Germany and Uss was arrested in Italy, both at the request of the United States, and will undergo extradition proceedings.

“As alleged, the defendants were criminal enablers for oligarchs, orchestrating a complex scheme to illegally obtain U.S. military technology and sanctioned Venezuelan oil through a myriad of transactions involving shell companies and cryptocurrencies. Their efforts undermined security, economic stability and the rule of law around the world,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York.

"We will continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those who fuel Russia's brutal war in Ukraine, evade sanctions and perpetuate the underground economy of transnational money laundering."

According to court documents, Orekhov served as co-owner, CEO and CEO of Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH (NDA GmbH), a privately held commodity and industrial equipment trading company located in Hamburg, Germany. The other owner of NDA GmbH is Artem Uss, the son of the governor of the Russian region of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Kuzurgasheva served as CEO of one of the scheme's shell companies and worked for NDA GmbH under Orekhov.

Orekhov and Kuzurgasheva sourced and purchased dual-use and sensitive military technologies from US manufacturers, including advanced semiconductors and microprocessors used in fighter jets, missile systems, smart munitions, radar, satellites and other space-based military applications.

These items were shipped to Russian end users, including sanctioned companies controlled by Telegin and Tulyakov that provided services to the Russian military. Some of the types of electronic components obtained through the criminal scheme have been found on Russian weapons platforms seized on the battlefield in Ukraine.

As alleged, in 2019, Orekhov traveled to the United States to obtain parts used in the Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet and the American-made F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet.

Additionally, Orekhov and Uss allegedly used NDA GmbH as a front to smuggle hundreds of millions of barrels of oil out of Venezuela to Russian and Chinese buyers, including a Russian aluminum company controlled by a sanctioned oligarch and the oil, gas and petroleum refining conglomerate. world's largest petrochemical plant in Beijing.

Serrano Ponce and Soto negotiated million-dollar deals between PDVSA and NDA GmbH, which were funneled through a complex set of shell companies and bank accounts to disguise the transactions.

In a communication with Serrano Ponce, Orekhov openly admitted that he was acting on behalf of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, saying, “He [the oligarch] is also under sanctions. That is why [we are] operating from this company [NDA GmbH]. as a facade.

The scheme also involved falsified shipping documents and supertankers disabling their GPS navigation systems to hide the Venezuelan origin of their oil.

Payment for the illicit activities of NDA GmbH was often consumed in US dollars sent through US financial institutions and correspondent bank accounts.

To facilitate these transactions, Orekhov and his accomplices used shell companies, falsified know-your-customer documentation, and bank accounts in high-risk jurisdictions, causing US banks to process tens of millions of dollars in violation. of US sanctions and other criminal laws.

In a conversation with Soto, Orekhov boasted that "there were no worries... this is the shitty bank of the Emirates... they pay for everything," says the communication from the prosecution.

The scheme also used mass cash shipments with couriers in Russia and Latin America, as well as cryptocurrency transfers worth millions of dollars, to effect these transactions and launder the proceeds.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Orekhov, Uss, Kuzurgasheva, Serrano Ponce and Soto are also charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); bank fraud conspiracy for oil smuggling scheme; and oil smuggling money laundering conspiracy and the IEEPA scheme.

Similarly, Orekhov, Kuzurgasheva, Telegin, and Tulyakov are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud; money laundering conspiracy for the illicit acquisition of US dual-use technology; conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and smuggling merchandise from the United States.

If convicted of bank fraud conspiracy, defendants face a maximum of 30 years in prison with additional prison time as a result of conviction on additional charges.


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