The U.S. authorities announced the launch of KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sanctions that the United States and its allies imposed in response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. KleptoCapture aims to target the crimes of Russian officials and government-aligned elites a/k/a oligarchs a/k/a kleptocrats. The enforcement actions include asset seizures and civil forfeitures of unlawful proceeds to deny resources that enable Russian aggression.
The KleptoCrate mission includes:
- Investigating and prosecuting violations of new and future sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine invasion, as well as sanctions imposed for prior instances of Russian aggression and corruption;
- Combating unlawful efforts to undermine restrictions taken against Russian financial institutions, including the prosecution of those who try to evade know-your-customer and anti-money laundering measures;
- Targeting efforts to use cryptocurrency to evade U.S. sanctions, launder proceeds of foreign corruption, or evade U.S. responses to Russian military aggression; and
- Using civil and criminal asset forfeiture authorities to seize assets belonging to sanctioned individuals or assets identified as the proceeds of unlawful conduct.
The Task Force will be fully empowered to use the most cutting-edge investigative techniques to identify sanctions evasion and related criminal misconduct.
The Ukraine war, apart from the human tragedies, also brings interesting structural changes. For the U.S., the Russian invasion is apparently also an occasion to crack down on the Russian kleptocracy and its oligarchs. This could have long-term effects that we cannot currently assess. We may justifiably doubt that a return to the old system will be possible after the end of the Ukraine war.