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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Multinational efforts target Russian sanctions evasion, illicit assets of Russian oligarchs

Federal Issues Financial Crimes Department of Treasury FinCEN DOJ Of Interest to Non-US Persons Russia Ukraine Ukraine Invasion OFAC Sanctions Bank Secrecy Act SARs

Federal Issues

On March 16, the U.S. Treasury Department, along with representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission, announced the first meeting of the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force, which was formed in February 2022. According to the announcement, the task force (consisting of the Finance Ministry and Justice or Home Ministry in each member jurisdiction) is “committed to using their respective authorities in concert with other appropriate ministries to collect and share information to take concrete actions, including sanctions, asset freezing, and civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution.” Topics discussed among the REPO task force included, among other things: (i) ensuring coordination and effective implementation of the group’s collective financial sanctions relating to Russia and assisting other nations with locating and freezing assets found within their jurisdictions; (ii) preserving evidence and determining whether these frozen assets, or other assets linked to these sanctioned individuals or entities, are subject to forfeiture; and (iii) ensuring that enablers and gatekeepers “who have facilitated the movement of sanctioned assets or other illicit funds” are brought to justice. The announcement also noted that it launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program, offering monetary awards for information leading to seizure, restraint, or forfeiture of assets linked to foreign government corruption, including the Government of the Russian Federation. Member countries released a joint statement following the launch of the REPO task force encouraging other countries to take action to “hunt down the assets of key Russian elites and proxies and to act against their enablers and facilitators” in order “to isolate them from the international financial system and impose consequences for their actions.”

In other international efforts, the DOJ launched Task Force KleptoCapture, “an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners,” in order to “isolate Russia from global markets.” (Covered previously by InfoBytes here.)

Also on March 16, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released a statement with counterparts in task force member countries and others stating their intent to increase information sharing.