With Whistleblower Law on the Books, U.S. Authorities Crack Down on Russian Sanctions

On December 29, President Biden signed into law the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Whistleblower Enhancement Act. This legislation is an important part of the anti-corruption effort, which, in addition to strengthening protections for AML whistleblowers, expands the AML Whistleblower Program to include whistleblowers who disclose violations of US sanctions.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced several charges against individuals who allegedly violated US sanctions against Russia.

On Jan. 20, the DOJ indicted two businessmen, Russian Vladislav Osipov and British national Richard Masters, on charges of facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme related to the $90 million, 255-foot Luxury Tango. A yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

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According to the DOJ’s indictment, “Despite US sanctions against Vekselberg in April 2018, Osipov and Masters facilitated Tango’s operation by using US companies and the US financial system to conceal Vekselberg’s involvement in the vessel. Vekselberg’s employee, Osipov, who worked as Tango’s property manager, created a complex ownership structure of shell companies to hide Vekselberg’s ownership of the yacht, even though Vekselberg was the yacht’s builder, sole user and ultimate beneficial owner. »

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“Sanctions evaders enable oligarchs who support Vladimir Putin’s regime to violate US laws. The United States will not allow its financial institutions or individuals to be manipulated or defrauded to profit those who support an illegal war,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew M. Graves.

On January 23, the DOJ charged former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s New York Counterintelligence Division, Charles F. announced the indictment of McGonigal and former Soviet and Russian diplomat Sergei Shestakov. The DOJ accused the men of violating US sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

“In 2021, McGonigal and Shestakov conspired to provide services to Deripaska in violation of US sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018,” the DOJ alleges. “More specifically, after negotiating with Deripaska’s agent, McGonigal and Shestakov colluded and investigated a rival Russian oligarch for secret payments from Deripaska. As part of his negotiations with Deripaska’s agent, McGonigal, Shestakov and the agent attempted to conceal Deripaska’s involvement by, among other methods, not naming Deripaska directly in electronic communications, using shell companies as counterparties to a contract for services to be performed, using false signatures on that contract, and obtaining payment from Deripaska. using the same companies for sending and receiving.

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In both cases, the defendants are charged with money laundering and sanction evasion. Under the AML Whistleblower Enhancement Act, individuals who voluntarily provide original information about sanctions and money laundering violations to U.S. authorities can receive whistleblower awards of 10-30% of the funds collected by the U.S.

In the last article ReutersStephen M., lead attorney at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto. Cohn explains that the AML Whistleblower Improvement Act is a “game changer” in the fight against Russian corruption.

“While the Whistleblower Enhancement Act broadly covers money laundering and sanctions violations, the ability to immediately use this law to enforce all financial restrictions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine was a driving force behind its passage,” Cohn said. writes.

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“The hidden gem of the AML Whistleblower Improvement Act was its ability to encourage whistleblowers from within Russia and Russia’s trading partners,” Cohn continued. “Given the law’s transnational scope, citizens of countries with financial or commercial ties to Russia can safely and effectively blow the whistle and help US authorities seize Russian sanctioned wealth.”

Further reading:

Arrests and criminal charges announced against British and Russian businessmen who facilitated sanctions evasion on Russian oligarch’s $90 million yacht | OPA | Department of Justice

A former special agent in charge of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York has been indicted for violating US sanctions against Russia | OPA | Department of Justice

The new AML law was seen as a “game changer” in the fight against corruption in Russia

More news about the AML Whistleblower WNN

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