On October 19, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) charged two Venezuelan and five Russian citizens with using cryptocurrencies to launder money for Russian oligarchs by selling barrels of oil from sanctions-hit Venezuela.
According to the press release, the defendants smuggled millions of barrels of oil into Russia and China, laundering “tens of millions of dollars.” They used cryptocurrencies to launder some of the funds.
Russian defendants include Yury Orekhov, Artem Uss (son of the governor of Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai region), Svetlana Kuzurgasheva, Timofey Telegin and Sergey Tulyakov. In addition to the Venezuelans Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce, also known as “Juanfe Serrano” and Juan Carlos Soto, who acted as an intermediary between the illicit oil deals of the Venezuelan state company “Petróleos de Venezuela SA” (PDVSA).
“Serrano Ponce and Soto brokered deals worth millions of dollars between PDVSA and NDA GmbH, which were funneled through a complex set of shell companies and bank accounts to disguise the transactions.”
How did the criminal network operate?
According to the Justice Department, Orekhov was listed as the co-owner, managing director and chief executive officer of Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH (NDA GmbH), a private company engaged in the trading of industrial equipment and commodities located in Hamburg, Germany.
NDA GmbH served as a front to purchase US military technology used in fighter jets, missile systems, radars, and satellites, among other military applications, which were then sold to other companies providing defense services in Russia.
According to the information released, Orekhov openly admitted during a conversation with Ponce that he was acting on behalf of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, using his company (NDA GmbH) “as a front”, boasting that they will never be found out due to intermediaries. used in business.
“There were no worries…this is the shitty bank of the Emirates…they pay for everything.”
Additionally, the criminal network used couriers from Russia and Latin America to receive large amounts of cash, which were later exchanged for cryptocurrencies to launder their profits.
US authorities hope to extradite the accused
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the defendants orchestrated “a complex scheme to illegally obtain U.S. military technology and Venezuelan-sanctioned oil” through shell companies and cryptocurrencies.
For his part, Michael J. Driscoll, deputy director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Field Office (FBI) in New York, praised the efforts of the authorities to dismantle a “sophisticated network” created by at least five Russians and two Venezuelans. . nationals
Orekhov and Uss are being held in Germany and Italy, respectively, pending extradition proceedings at the request of the United States. If proven guilty, the defendants could face up to 30 years in prison in the United States.
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This post US Accuses Five Russians and Two Venezuelans of Smuggling Oil and Military Equipment Using Cryptocurrencies
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