The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has announced the imposition of sanctions on Russian citizen Ekaterina Zhdanova for her involvement in money laundering and transferring funds using cryptocurrencies on behalf of Russian elites.
Brian E. Nelson, the Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, stressed that Russian oligarchs and other criminal actors, such as ransomware gangs, tried to circumvent U.S. and international sanctions by misusing digital currencies. He emphasized OFAC’s commitment to defending the U.S. and worldwide financial system against criminals who would use cryptocurrencies and other illicit finance risks to fund their activities.
According to the U.S Department of Treasury, despite extensive sanctions imposed on the Russian financial system in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Zhdanova assisted a Russian client in obfuscating the sum of over $2.3 million. This money was transferred to Western Europe through a fraudulently opened investment account and real estate purchases. Zhdanova’s services provided Russian individuals with access to Western financial markets that may have otherwise been blocked due to U.S. and international sanctions.
Zhdanova’s activities were also reported to have extended to virtual currency exchange transfers on behalf of Russian oligarchs who have relocated internationally. Notably, she was engaged to move over $100 million in wealth on behalf of a Russian oligarch to the United Arab Emirates. Zhdanova also facilitated a tax residency service in the United Arab Emirates for Russian clients, possibly participating in concealing their identities. This service enabled her clients to obtain tax residency and a bank account in the United Arab Emirates, making it easier to manage funds from anywhere in the world.
As a result of these actions, all property and interests in property belonging to Ekaterina Zhdanova that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. individuals are now blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Entities that are directly or indirectly owned by 50 percent or more by blocked individuals are also subject to sanctions.
Financial institutions and other entities engaging in transactions or activities with sanctioned individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or enforcement actions. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States involving any property or interests in property of designated individuals unless authorized by a specific license issued by OFAC.
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