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DOJ Task Force Charged 35 Russians Backing Putin Since Last Year

Less than a week after Russian tanks swept across the Ukrainian border last February, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a new Justice Department-led task force to go after Russian oligarchs who support President Vladimir Putin and his war machine, NPR reports. Task Force KleptoCapture, Garland said, would hold accountable Kremlin-aligned Russian elites who try to evade sanctions the U.S. and its allies had imposed in response to Putin's invasion. "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," Garland said. In the year since, the task force has brought charges against at least 35 individuals and corporate entities as the Biden administration and its allies seek to impose pain on Putin and the Russian elites who back him.

The most prominent oligarch charged so far is Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire industrialist who U.S. officials say has deep ties to the Kremlin. The task force also has brought charges against suspected Russian agents and the networks of individuals working with them to obtain advanced American technology that could be used by the Russian military. "We thought it was really important to go after, in the first instance, those individuals whose corruption has fueled the Russian war machine," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. "And to send a very clear signal that we could work quickly with our partners and that we could set a pace for enforcement of these sanctions." Part of that enforcement work has involved seizing the big-ticket items that Kremlin-aligned oligarchs have reaped from the allegedly ill-gotten gains. Last May, the FBI assisted authorities in Fiji in the seizure of a 348-foot luxury yacht that the U.S. says belongs to sanctioned oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.


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