Civil Forfeiture Complaint Filed Against Six Luxury Real Estate Properties Involved In Sanctions Evasion And Money Laundering | USAO-SDNY

Civil Forfeiture Complaint Filed Against Six Luxury Real Estate Properties Involved In Sanctions Evasion And Money Laundering | USAO-SDNY

Civil Forfeiture Complaint Filed Against Six Luxury Real Estate Properties Involved In Sanctions Evasion And Money Laundering | USAO-SDNY

Damian Williams, the United States Legal professional for the Southern District of New York, Andrew C. Adams, the Director of Endeavor Drive KleptoCapture, Ivan J. Arvelo, the Unique Agent in Demand of the New York Industry Office environment of Homeland Protection Investigations (“HSI”), and Maged Behnam, Performing Unique Agent in Demand of the Miami Field Place of work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced right now the submitting of a civil forfeiture criticism in opposition to 6 authentic houses found in New York, New York, Southampton, New York, and Fisher Island, Florida, truly worth approximately $75 million.  The Complaint alleges that the homes, which are beneficially owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, are the proceeds of sanctions violations and were being involved in intercontinental income laundering in advertising of sanctions violations committed by, between others, Vladimir Voronchenko, a/k/a “Vladimir Vorontchenko,” who was indicted on February 7, 2023. 

U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams claimed: “Today’s action, filed on the anniversary of Russia’s comprehensive-scale invasion of Ukraine, seeks forfeiture of 6 luxury homes owned by Viktor Vekselberg that his affiliate Vladimir Voronchenko preserved by funneling thousands and thousands of dollars into the United States.  With the filing of this grievance, the United States sends a robust message to all those who violate sanctions and engage in income laundering that the United States will use just about every accessible resource to forfeit prison proceeds and will use that funds to help our allies in Ukraine underneath the freshly enacted law.”

Director of Activity Drive KleptoCapture Andrew C. Adams said: “Strawmen, corrupt industry experts, and shell firms might be the hallmarks of revenue laundering and sanctions evasion, but they are obstructions that diligent, devoted investigators and prosecutors will surmount.  Today’s submitting marks yet a further step that the Office of Justice and our associates at HSI and FBI have taken toward dislodging unwell-gotten gains from individuals who would try to evade U.S. sanctions, and toward producing the worth of these qualities readily available for help to Ukraine.”

HSI Special Agent in Cost Ivan J. Arvelo mentioned: “For yrs, Russia’s weaponization of corruption has relied on opaque lawful constructions – and Western enablers – to move, conceal, and expend stolen prosperity, enriching its oligarchs and ultimately resourcing the war in the Ukraine.  Because the invasion, HSI New York and our companions have worked tirelessly to lower Russia’s corruptocrats and their property out of the American monetary program.  Now we carry on our lively actions and clear away jewels from the crown of yet an additional oligarch, stripping him of the luxury property he so cherishes.”

FBI Performing Special Agent in Demand Maged Behnam explained: “The mission of the interagency Job Drive KleptoCapture is to implement sanctions, export limitations, and financial countermeasures imposed by the United States in reaction to Russia’s unprovoked navy invasion of Ukraine a single calendar year ago.  This civil forfeiture criticism is an instance of the Job Force’s ongoing work to satisfy this mission.  I commend the tough function, devotion, and cooperation of this crew of experts.”

According to the allegations in the Grievance submitted in Manhattan federal courtroom currently:[1]

On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Business of International Belongings Control (“OFAC”) selected Vekselberg as a Specially Specified National (“SDN”) in connection with its obtaining that the steps of the Government of the Russian Federation in Ukraine constituted an abnormal and remarkable threat to the national safety and overseas coverage of the United States.  On or about March 11, 2022, OFAC redesignated Vekselberg as an SDN and blocked Vekselberg’s yacht and non-public plane.

Prior to his designation by OFAC, among in or about 2008 and in or about 2017, Vekselberg, by way of a sequence of shell companies, obtained six real attributes in the United States, precisely, (i) two residences on Park Avenue in New York, New York, (ii) an estate in Southampton, New York, (iii) two residences on Fisher Island, Florida, and (iv) a penthouse apartment also on Fisher Island, Florida (collectively, “the Properties” or the “Defendants-in-rem”).  As of the day of the Complaint, the Houses have been really worth close to $75 million. 

Voronchenko, Vekselberg’s close pal and organization affiliate, retained an legal professional (the “Attorney”), who practiced in New York, New York, in connection with the acquisition of the Properties.  The Legal professional also managed the finances of the Houses, including by paying common charges, home taxes, coverage rates, and other fees linked with the Attributes in U.S. greenback transactions from the Attorney’s fascination on lawyer’s belief account (“IOLTA account”).

Prior to Vekselberg’s designation as an SDN, amongst close to February 2009 and March 2018, businesses owned by Vekselberg sent around 90 wire transfers totaling somewhere around $18.5 million to the IOLTA account.  At the way of Voronchenko and his household member who lived in Russia, the Legal professional used these cash to make different U.S. dollar payments to sustain and company the Qualities. 

Right away after Vekselberg’s designation as an SDN, the source of the funds employed to keep and provider the Properties adjusted.  The IOLTA Account started to obtain wires from a bank account in the Bahamas held in the title of a shell company managed by Voronchenko, Smile Keeping Ltd., and from a Russian lender account held in the identify of a Russian countrywide who was relevant to Voronchenko.  Among around June 2018 and March 2022, around 25 wire transfers totaling approximately $4 million were sent to the IOLTA account.  Even though the resource of the payments altered, the administration of the payments remained the same as in advance of: Voronchenko and his relatives member directed the Attorney to use these funds to make a variety of U.S. dollar payments to manage and service the Qualities.  On top of that, immediately after Vekselberg was sanctioned in 2018, Voronchenko and other people attempted to offer each the Park Avenue apartment and the Southampton estate.  No licenses from OFAC were being utilized for or issued for any of these payments or attempted transfers.  

On or about May perhaps 13, 2022, federal agents served Voronchenko on Fisher Island with a Grand Jury subpoena, which named for his particular visual appeal for testimony and his generation of documents, which include documents relating to the Qualities.  Approximately nine times afterwards, on or about May well 22, 2022, Voronchenko took a flight from Miami, Florida, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and then went to Moscow, Russia.  Voronchenko unsuccessful to show up just before the Grand Jury and has not returned to the United States.

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The Properties subject matter to the forfeiture motion are as follows:

  • 19 Duck Pond Lane, Southampton, New York 11968
  • 515 Park Avenue, Units 21 and 2I, New York, New York 10022
  • 7002 Fisher Island Generate, Unit 7002 PH2, Miami Beach, Florida 33109 and
  • 7183 Fisher Island Travel, Models 7182 and 7183, Miami Seashore, Florida 33109.

Mr. Williams praised the fantastic perform of the New York and Miami subject places of work of HSI and the FBI.  Mr. Williams further more thanked the Department of Justice’s National Protection Division and Office environment of Global Affairs and OFAC for their aid and cooperation in this investigation.

On March 2, 2022, the Legal professional General introduced the start of Endeavor Power KleptoCapture, an interagency regulation enforcement task power dedicated to implementing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and financial countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and companions, in reaction to Russia’s unprovoked navy invasion of Ukraine.  The Activity Pressure will leverage all the Department’s instruments and authorities from attempts to evade or undermine the financial actions taken by the U.S. authorities in response to Russian military aggression.

This situation is getting taken care of by the Office’s Funds Laundering and Transnational Felony Enterprises Device.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Greenwood, Joshua A. Naftalis, and Sheb Swett are in demand of this action. 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the Criticism, and the description of the Complaint established forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every simple fact explained should be handled as an allegation.