Russian national sanctioned for money laundering in virtual currency


The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned a Russian national for her involvement in laundering and transferring funds using virtual currency on behalf of Russian elites.

Ekaterina Zhdanova allegedly played a central role in helping Russian elites and illicit actors evade U.S. and international sanctions, including by exploiting virtual currency.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, OFAC imposed significant economic sanctions on the Russian financial system. Zhdanova, in March 2022, allegedly helped a Russian client conceal the source of more than $2.3 million, funneling it to Western Europe through fraudulent investment accounts and real estate acquisitions.

Zhdanova used virtual currency to facilitate cross-border transactions and exploit missing entities Fight against money laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), such as OFAC-designated Russian cryptocurrency exchange Garantex Europe OU.

She allegedly used multiple methods, including cash, relationships with international money laundering associates, and traditional businesses such as a luxury watch company with a global presence.

Zhdanova also carried out virtual currency transfers on behalf of oligarchs who had moved abroad. One example involved the transfer of more than $100 million in wealth for a Russian oligarch to the United Arab Emirates.

It also facilitated UAE tax residency services for Russian clients, potentially masking their identities, thereby enabling the creation of a globally managed original fund with minimal international oversight.

Additionally, Zhdanova provided its services to individuals linked to the Russian Ryuk ransomware group, who allegedly laundered more than $2.3 million in payments from alleged victims for a Ryuk ransomware subsidiary in 2021. The Ryuk group poses a threat of significant cybercrime, primarily targeting the country’s hospitals and healthcare providers. United States.

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“Through key enablers like Zhdanova, Russian elites, ransomware groups, and other illicit actors have sought to evade U.S. and international sanctions, including through the abuse of virtual currency. » commented Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson.

“We remain focused on protecting the U.S. and international financial system from those who seek to exploit this technology, among other illicit financial risks in the virtual asset ecosystem.”

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