Over the past week, the U.S., UK, and EU imposed sweeping sanctions rolled out by the US, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outlined here. Also last week, the Department of Justice announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture to enforce these sanctions and seize assets belonging to sanctioned individuals and other criminal actors. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland made clear that the U.S. “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.”

Task Force KleptoCapture will target the crimes of Russian oligarchs and those who aid or conceal their unlawful conduct. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, whose office will oversee the Task Force, told financial institutions to be on high alert for oligarchs attempting to use the U.S. financial system to hide criminal proceeds and evade sanctions. She emphasized that financial institutions should ensure their customer compliance and anti-money laundering programs are finely tuned to these risks.  In line with the Department’s increased efforts to investigate and prosecute the criminal misuse of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, Task Force KleptoCapture will also target efforts to use cryptocurrency to evade sanctions and launder proceeds of foreign corruption.

The Task Force will include individuals from across the Department and a number of government agencies who are experts in sanctions and export control enforcement, anti-corruption, asset forfeiture, anti-money laundering, tax enforcement, national security investigations, and foreign evidence collection, and will be led by a veteran asset forfeiture and money laundering prosecutor from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office.

In the coming days, we anticipate more developments in this area and will continue to update you accordingly.