The KleptoCapture task force has been tasked with tracking down sanctioned wealthy Russians who may otherwise collaborate with President Vladimir Putin in financing the war in Ukraine.
The US has issued unprecedented sanctions on Russia because of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
As a result, the US is not only imposing stiff penalties, but also making sure that sanctioned individuals are not able to hide their wealth.
KleptoCapture will also look into cryptocurrency exchanges which some fear serve as a cushion for avoiding sanctions.
None of this seems to be plausible anymore as the task force will hammer crypto exchanges as well. Even before that, experts said that anyone would be hard pressed to avoid sanctions of the scale imposed by the US and its allies through crypto.
Describing KleptoCapture, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said: “Our goal is to bring any appropriate charge against any sanctioned Russian oligarch or entity, and those who would help them to evade economic sanctions.”
These comments may incentivize exchanges that previously said they would not restrict “economic freedoms” to rethink their stance. Kraken, Binance and Coinbase all issued a statement that they would not restrict accounts from Russia en masse.
They may now have to make sure that they have not let sanctioned individuals launder money through their platforms or face the DoJ’s enforcement action. The task force is headed by Andrew Adams, a New York City prosecutor, who is known for his work on busting crypto criminals.
The task force is not going to target ordinary Russian citizens but rather the people who misused their economic wealth to enable Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The task force will also seek criminal funds that originated from activity that has directly damaged the US financial system.