Biden Administration Creates Task Force 'KleptoCapture' To Halt Russian Oligarchs And Their Crypto
On Wednesday, the Biden administration and Attorney General Merrick Garland with the backing of the US Department of Justice launched a new initiative dubbed “Task Force KleptoCapture” aimed at halting Russia from using cryptocurrencies and other digital assets to avoid the harsh economic sanctions being levied against the country for their invasion of Ukraine.
By Andrew Senior
March 4th, 2022
The new task force, which brings together units from the FBI, Marshals Service, IRS, Postal Inspection, Homeland Security Investigations and Secret Service describes themselves as,
“…an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners.”
The far reaching sanctions currently being imposed on the Russian Federation include restricting numerous Russian banks from joining the SWIFT global financial system, asset freezes, trade restrictions, travel bans, and now the potential seizure of property and goods from individuals associated with Putin.
Task Force KleptoCapture will have the responsibility of making sure all economic sanctions are being adhered to while targeting,
“…the crimes of Russian officials, government-aligned elites, and those who aid or conceal their unlawful conduct.”
KleptoCapture will also be identifying and pursuing any individual or entity that attempts to use cryptocurrencies to skirt US sanctions as well as those who would attempt to launder the “proceeds of foreign corruption” or to “or evade US responses to Russian military aggression.”
Garland gave a rundown of the different tools that will be at the disposal of Task Force KleptoCapture,
“The Task Force will be fully empowered to use the most cutting-edge investigative techniques — including data analytics, cryptocurrency tracing, foreign intelligence sources, and information from financial regulators and private sector partners — to identify sanctions evasion and related criminal misconduct. The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions,” Garland commented. “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. Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable.”
As Russia’s invading forces continued to ramp up hostilities, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov sought to restrict accounts originating from Russia and Belarus from various cryptocurrency exchange, requesting any information from the public on the “cryptowallets of Russian and Belarusian politicians.”
The new task force will be headed by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who fired off a warning shot during her initial statements,
“Oligarchs be warned: we will use every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds.”