US Charges Russian Oligarch, Dismantles Cybercrime Operation

US Charges Russian Oligarch, Dismantles Cybercrime Operation US Charges Russian Oligarch, Dismantles Cybercrime Operation Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco (TOM BRENNER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

ERIC TUCKER and MICHAEL BALSAMO Wednesday, 06 April 2022 11:01 AM

The Biden administration has charged a Russian oligarch with violating U.S. government sanctions and has disrupted a cybercrime operation controlled by a Russian military intelligence agency, officials said Wednesday.

The actions, announced amid Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine, underscore what U.S. officials say are their efforts to crack down on Russian criminal activity, to choke off the flow of “dirty money” and to disrupt the Kremlin's malicious cyber acts.

“Our goal is to ensure that sanctions Russian oligarchs, and cyber criminals will not find safe haven,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Wednesday.

The case against against Konstantin Malofeyev, a Russian media baron, accuses him of trying to evade earlier Treasury Department sanctions resulting from Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Though the sanctions barred U.S. citizens from working for or doing business with him, Malofeyev allegedly used co-conspirators to secretly acquire media organizations across Europe in hopes of spreading pro-Russia propaganda.

A former CNBC and Fox News employee was arrested London last month for his work as a television producer for Malofeyev.

The announcements come two days after U.S. officials seized a yacht in Spain belonging to a Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Justice Department in the last year has taken aim against Russia-based cybercrime, recovering in June most of a multimillion-dollar ransom that Colonial Pipeline paid to hackers after a ransomware attack that halted operations and announcing charges last fall against two suspected ransomware operators.

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