Friday April 19th, 2024 8:13PM

Russian national living in Buford pleads guilty to over $150M in illegal international transfers

By Austin Eller & The Associated Press

The Justice Department announced a series of arrests and indictments Thursday against Russian businessmen and their facilitators in five separate federal cases across the country, including in North Georgia.

The other cases were in New York, Florida, and the District of Columbia.

The action was timed to coincide with the two-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began Feb. 24, 2022.

In the Georgia case, Feliks Medvedev pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business, according to U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan in the Northern District of Georgia. He reportedly transferred more than $150 million of foreign currency through U.S. bank accounts in North Georgia.

Additionally, Alexey Chubarov, Lev Solyannikov and KSK Group were all indicted in Georgia on Feb. 13 for the offenses of conspiracy, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and 39 counts of money laundering for their alleged respective roles related to Medvedev’s scheme. 

Medvedev is a Russian national who lives in Buford, according to a release from Buchanan’s office. He reportedly registered eight companies in Georgia that were used to illegally transmit over $150 million in more than 1,300 transactions. The companies were reportedly headquartered in Buford and Dacula.

The purported companies did not have typical business expenses or maintain employees. 

“A large majority of the money transferred into the accounts came from multiple overseas companies and was transferred generally within days to other foreign companies,” the release said. “The money was used, in part, to purchase over $65 million in gold bullion from the Singapore Precious Metals Exchange.”

Medvedev’s sentencing is set for May 7 at 10 a.m. before United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr.

The other three defendants in the case, Chubarov, Solyannikov and KSK Group, allegedly conspired with Medvedev in the transfer of these funds and then laundered the illegal proceeds. KSK Group is a business consulting firm in Moscow, and Chubarov and Solyannikov both worked for KSK Group. They had previously been added to the national list of sanctioned entitled in Sept. 2023.

Chubarov and Solyannikov would reportedly warn Medvedev about incoming wires, then direct him on the outgoing transfers he should make. That included the transfer of funds to the Singapore Precious Medals Exchange to purchase the gold bullion. 

The Georgia case is continuing to be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Arrests elsewhere in the country

Elsewhere in the U.S., charges were unsealed in New York against sanctioned Russian banker Andrei Kostin and two of his U.S.-based facilitators. The facilitators, Vadim Wolfson and Gannon Bond, were arrested Thursday.

Kostin is the longtime president of VTB Bank, a state-owned bank and Russia's second largest. He is charged with engaging in a scheme to evade sanctions and launder money to support two superyachts. Kostin and the two facilitators are also accused of trying to evade sanctions related to a luxury home in Aspen, Colorado.

Michael Khoo, a co-director of the department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, said on a call with reporters that the announcement was meant to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that “we’re not going away” and “we can play the long game as well" so long as the war continues.

The KleptoCapture task force enforces the economic restrictions within the U.S. imposed on Russia and its billionaires.

The Justice Department says over the past two years it has secured court orders for the restraint, seizure, and forfeiture of nearly $700 million in assets and has charged more than 70 people with violating sanctions and export controls.

“The Justice Department is more committed than ever to cutting off the flow of illegal funds that are fueling Putin’s war and to holding accountable those who continue to enable it,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement.

“That is why today we are announcing several additional enforcement actions that the Justice Department has taken to bring prosecutions against and seize assets of sanctioned enablers of the Kremlin and Russian military.”

Also Thursday, an indictment was unsealed in Washington, D.C., charging Vladislav Osipov with bank fraud connected to operating a 255-foot luxury yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Osipov, a Russian national, lives in Switzerland.

The indictment identifies the superyacht as the Tango, the first belonging to a sanctioned Russian with close ties to the Kremlin to be seized at the request of the U.S. government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In Florida, Serhiy Kurchenko, a sanctioned pro-Russian Ukrainian metals magnate, was indicted for trying to evade sanctions, among other charges. Also in Florida, a civil forfeiture complaint was filed against two luxury condos in Bal Harbour owned by sanctioned Russian businessman Viktor Perevalov, the co-owner of a Russia-based construction company

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