This week, criminals worldwide saw their names added to least-liked lists, as the FBI placed the fugitive Bulgarian ‘Cryptoqueen’ accused of fraud and money laundering in its most wanted top ten; the UK Government sanctioned Russia’s second wealthiest man and Kremlin insider; and a multinational task force announced that its operations so far had ‘immobilised’ billions-worth of sanctioned Russian elites’ funds, assets, and luxury goods.
Find out more on these stories below.
FBI adds wire fraud and money laundering accused Bulgarian ‘Cryptoqueen’ to top 10 most-wanted list
The US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) placed the Bulgarian-born Ruja Ignatova, dubbed the “Cryptoqueen”, on its famed top ten most wanted fugitives list on Thursday 30 June 2022. Ignatova faces accusations over her role in the defrauding investors in the OneCoin cryptocurrency scheme of over US$4bn.
A press statement issued by the FBI on the same day offered a reward of up to US$100,000 for information which assists in apprehending her.
Ignatova, whom Indian police laid similar charges against over the OneCoin collapse in July 2017, has been on the run since October 2017, when a US District Court first issued a warrant for her arrest. According to investigators, the OneCoin Ltd founder ran the fraudulent scheme between 2014 and early 2018.
OneCoin stand accused of having made false statements and misrepresentations to victims who unwittingly wired funds into OneCoin accounts, believing that they were purchasing cryptocurrency packages and stood to make commissions on selling those packages on. However, OneCoin has to date not launched and additionally it is not secured by the blockchain technology which other cryptocurrencies are tracked on.
Collectively Ignatova faces five charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering. Other co-conspirators in the OneCoin scam are facing similar charges.
Read more on this story at BBC.
UK Government sanctions Russia’s second richest man and other close friends of the Kremlin
British authorities announced this latest wave of sanctions against Russian oligarchs and Putin supporters on Wednesday 29 June 2022. Vladimir Potanin, a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin - known as the “Nickel King” for his 36% share in Russian mining and metallurgy company GMK Noril'skiy Nikel' PAO, or ‘Nornickel’ - was added to the extensive Russian sanctions list.
Anna Tsivileva, a second cousin of President Putin who heads Russian coal company, the JSC Kolmar Group, also joined Potanin on the list.
This latest round of sanctions also targeted Russian persons and business entities who are involved with the Assad regime in Syria, which the UK claims exposes “Russia’s malign activity across the globe.”
Alongside international allies, the UK started imposing measures against Russia in the wake of Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which started on 24 February 2022. At present, the UK has now sanctioned over 1,000 people colluding in any way with the Putin regime, and more than one hundred businesses.
Commenting on the updated sanctions list, a government spokesperson said that “as long as Putin continues his abhorrent assault on Ukraine, we will use sanctions to weaken the Russian war machine. Today’s sanctions show that nothing and no one is off the table, including Putin’s inner circle.”
Read more on this story at Reuters.
US$300 billion frozen, blocked, and seized from Russian oligarchs in 100 days by US Treasury and dedicated global task force
The US Treasury and the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force came together on Wednesday 29 June 2022 to issue a joint press statement, detailing the fruits of their collaborative efforts in the one hundred days since several US government entities and their European colleagues launched the multi-pronged, international initiative in March 2022.
The REPO Task Force listed their haul at the one-hundred-day landmark as follows:
- Blocked over US$30bn worth of sanctioned Russians’ assets in the form of bank accounts and access to economic resources
- Halted about US$300bn in assets held by the Russian Central Bank
- Detained, froze, or seized luxury yachts, other vessels, and high-end real estate parcels owned or controlled by sanctioned Russian elites
- Inhibited sanctioned Russians’ access to the global financial system, frustrating their efforts to acquire the technology needed to sustain the invasion of Ukraine
The statement vowed to sustain the momentum achieved by the multi-national collaborative effort, concluding that REPO and partners will “continue to increase Russia’s cost of its war [and] remain committed to fully implementing and enforcing our economic and financial sanctions and remain vigilant against sanctions evasion and circumvention.”
Read more on this story at Mondo Visione.
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