Criminal Charges Announced

( – In a new step to crack down on shady Russian businessmen tied to the regime of Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the US Justice Department has announced arrests and indictments in five major federal cases coinciding with the second anniversary of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

On February 24, 2022, Putin dispatched hundreds of thousands of heavily armed troops to conquer a pro-Western Ukraine and thus restore the former Soviet empire.

The Ukrainians surprised the world by resisting successfully, especially in the later stages of the war, thanks to vital US and other Western military aid.

The DOJ said on Thursday it had targeted Russian oligarchs on US soil, together with their local accomplices, in New York, Florida, Georgia, and the District of Columbia.

In just one of the cases, in New York, legal charges were revealed against Andrei Kostin, a sanctioned Russian banker, alongside two individuals in the United States, Vadim Wolfson and Gannon Bond, who were assisting him.

Wolfson and Bond faced arrest on the same day. Kostin, who has served as the long-standing president of VTB Bank—a major state-owned financial institution and the second-largest bank in Russia—is implicated in a scheme designed to bypass sanctions and launder funds to facilitate the maintenance of two superyachts.

Moreover, Kostin and his associates are accused of attempting to circumvent sanctions concerning a luxury property in Aspen, Colorado.

In Georgia, Feliks Medvedev confessed to facilitating the laundering of over $150 million via bank accounts under his control. Medvedev, a Russian national, resides in Buford, Georgia.

Michael Khoo, a co-director of the Task Force KleptoCapture, told reporters the US government was sending a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “We’re not going away” and “We can play the long game as well” as Moscow’s war against Ukraine persists.

The Task Force KleptoCapture is dedicated to enforcing economic sanctions imposed by the US on Russia and its affluent citizens.

The DOJ informs that over the past two years, it has obtained court orders for the restriction, seizure, and forfeiture of assets totaling nearly $700 million and has charged over 70 individuals for breaching sanctions and export regulations.

“The Justice Department is more committed than ever to cutting off the flow of illegal funds that are fueling Putin’s war and to holding accountable those who continue to enable it,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“That is why today we are announcing several additional enforcement actions that the Justice Department has taken to bring prosecutions against and seize assets of sanctioned enablers of the Kremlin and Russian military,” he added.