The US has unveiled charges against Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev for violating sanctions – the first criminal charges against a leader from since the country invaded .
Malofeyev, 47, is charged with conspiracy to violate US sanctions and violations of sanctions linked to him hiring American citizen Jack Hanick to operate television networks in Russia and Greece and trying to acquire a network in Bulgaria, the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.
US authorities for years had accused Malofeyev of providing financing to Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
‘As the indictment charges, the Treasury Department previously identified Malofeyev as one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, and for providing material support for the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic,’ stated Attorney General Merrick Garland, referring to another separatist region in Ukraine.
‘After being sanctioned by the United States, Malofeyev attempted to evade the sanctions by using co-conspirators to surreptitiously acquire and run media outlets across Europe.’
US authorities seized millions of dollars from an account at a US-based financial institution that exhibited sanctions violations, Garland said.
Malofeyev remains at large and is believed to be in Russia. Each of the two sanctions charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Along with the indictment, Garland announced that a global malicious computer network referred to as a ‘botnet’ controlled by the Russian intelligence agency GRU had been disrupted.
‘The Russian government has recently used similar infrastructure to attack Ukrainian targets,’ Garland said. ‘Fortunately, we were able to disrupt this botnet before it was used.’
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