Oct 19, 2022 - World

5 charged with obtaining military technology for sanctioned Russian companies

The Department of Justice building is seen Aug. 18, 2022, in Washington, DC. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Five Russian nationals and two oil traders were charged Wednesday over an alleged money laundering and global sanctions evasion scheme, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: A 12-count indictment was unsealed in a New York federal court, accusing the defendants of obtaining military technology from U.S. companies, smuggling millions of barrels of oil and laundering tens of millions of dollars for Russian oligarchs and other sanctioned entities, per the DOJ.

  • Some of the electronic components that Orekhov and Kuzurgasheva are alleged to have purchased through the scheme have been found in Russian weapons platforms seized on the battlefield in Ukraine, federal prosecutors said.

Details: Yury Orekhov, Artem Uss, Svetlana Kuzurgasheva, Timofey Telegin and Sergey Tulyakov are facing various charges related to a global procurement, smuggling and money laundering network. 

  • Also charged are Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce and Juan Carlos Soto, who allegedly brokered illicit oil deals for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., a Venezuelan state-owned oil company. 

What they're saying: "As alleged, the defendants were criminal enablers for oligarchs, orchestrating a complex scheme to unlawfully obtain U.S. military technology and Venezuelan sanctioned oil through a myriad of transactions involving shell companies and cryptocurrency," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. 

  • "Their efforts undermined security, economic stability and rule of law around the world," he added.
  • "We will continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those who fuel Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, evade sanctions and perpetuate the shadowy economy of transnational money laundering."

Of note: In a separate case, federal prosecutors in Connecticut announced the indictment of three European on charges of violating U.S. export laws for allegedly trying to smuggle a "jig grinder" by ship to Russia.

  • The computer-controlled grinding machine has the potential to be used in nuclear proliferation and defense programs," according to a DOJ statement.
  • European authorities arrested Eriks Mamonovs, 33, and Vadims Ananics, 46, both citizens of Latvia, and Stanislav Romanyuk, 37, a citizen of Ukraine and resident of Estonia, at the request of the U.S. prosecutors and they're awaiting extradition to the United States, the Justice Department said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the European arrests.

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