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US sanctions Russian national for helping wealthy Russians launder money

by Nate Ostiller November 3, 2023 6:54 PM 2 min read
Representation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration photo taken on June 26, 2023. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on Yekaterina Zhdanova, a Russian citizen, for her role in helping the Russian elite launder their money and avoid sanctions, according to a press release on Nov. 3.

The OFAC said that Zhdanova uses a variety of methods to obfuscate the source of the money she transfers and move it across international borders. In particular, Zhdanova uses virtual currency trading platforms, such as the sanctioned Russian crypto-exchange company Garantex.

The Wall Street Journal alleged in October that the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad received part of a $93 million payment through Garantex.

In addition, Zhdanova also used more traditional money laundering methods, such as the use of shell companies, cash, and "leveraging connections to other international money laundering associates and organizations."

The OFAC said that Zhdanova had laundered millions of dollars for her clients, including over $100 million that she helped a Russian oligarch transfer to the United Arab Emirates.

One of the clients she worked with was the Russian Ryuk ransomware group, which has targeted thousands of victims around the world. The OFAC said that Zhdanova helped Ryuk launder over $2.3 million of suspected victim payments.

“Through key facilitators like Zhdanova, Russian elites, ransomware groups, and other illicit actors sought to evade U.S. and international sanctions, particularly through the abuse of virtual currency,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

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