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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

DOJ seizes $300 million yacht as part of Task Force KleptoCapture; OFAC issues Russia-related general licenses and updated FAQs

Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury DOJ Of Interest to Non-US Persons Ukraine Russia Ukraine Invasion OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations

Financial Crimes

On May 5, the DOJ executed a seizure warrant freezing a $300 million yacht owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch, following a determination that the yacht is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and conspiracy. The Russian oligarch was designated in 2018 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control pursuant to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act and Executive Order (E.O.) 13582 (covered by InfoBytes here). According to the DOJ’s announcement, the sanctioned oligarch owned the yacht after his designation and “caused U.S. dollar transactions to be routed through U.S. financial institutions for the support and maintenance of the [yacht].” The seizure was coordinated through the DOJ’s Task Force KleptoCapture, which is “an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, have imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine” (covered by InfoBytes here.)

The same day OFAC also issued several Russia-related general licenses (GL), including GL 7A, which authorizes “transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the receipt of, and payment of charges for, services rendered in connection with overflights of the Russian Federation or emergency landings in the Russian Federation by aircraft registered in the United States or owned or controlled by, or chartered to, U.S. persons that are prohibited by the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations”; GL 26A, which authorizes all transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down of transactions involving Joint Stock Company SB Sberbank Kazakhstan or Sberbank Europe AG, or any entity that Sberbank subsidiaries owns, through July 12, provided certain criteria are met; GL 31, which authorizes certain transactions related to patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other forms of intellectual property protections in the U.S. or Russia that would otherwise be prohibited; and GL 32, which authorizes the wind down of transactions involving Amsterdam Trade Bank NV that would ordinarily be prohibited by E.O. 14024 through July 12. Additionally, OFAC issued one new and one amended Russia-related frequently asked questions.

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