By Luc Cohen and Daphne Psaledakis
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday charged five Russian nationals with evading sanctions and other charges of shipping military technology purchased from Chinese manufacturers. American exports to Russian buyers, some of which ended up on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said the electronic components purchased by Russian citizens Yury Orekhov and Svetlana Kuzurgasheva included semiconductors, radars and satellites. Prosecutors said some of the electronic equipment obtained through the scheme was found in Russian weapons rigs seized in Ukraine.
Prosecutors said they used a German company to ship Venezuelan military technology and oil to Russian buyers.
Orekhov was arrested in Germany on Monday. Another Russian charged in the case, Artem Uss, has been arrested in Italy and the United States is seeking his extradition, prosecutors said. Reuters could not immediately contact any of the defendants for comment.
“We will continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those responsible for Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, evading sanctions, and evading sanctions,” said Breon Peace, top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. perpetuating the shady economy of transnational money laundering,” Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said in a statement.
Also on Wednesday, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Orekhov and two companies he controls, Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH, also known as NDA, and Opus Energy Trading LLC. The Treasury Department described Orekhov as a procurement agent and said some shipments of military and sensitive dual-use technology to Russian users violated US export controls.
U.S.-origin technologies could be used in fighter aircraft, ballistic and hypersonic missile systems, smart weapons and other military applications, Treasury said.
The accusations and sanctions come as Washington is seeking to expand sanctions against Russia and crack down on evasive behavior to pressure the Kremlin to stop its invasion of Ukraine.
At its first meeting last week with officials from 32 countries and the United States, Washington warned it could impose sanctions on people, countries and companies that supply munitions to Russia or support it. support their military-industrial complex.
“We know these efforts are having a direct impact on the battlefield, as Russia’s desperation has led them to turn to shoddy suppliers and outdated equipment,” Deputy Finance Secretary Wally Adeyemo said. said in a statement.
Prosecutors said Orekhov and Uss owned the NDA and used it as a front to buy technologies and ship them to Russian end users, including sanctioned companies controlled by Timofey Telegin and Sergey Tulyakov , two of the other Russian nationals charged on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said the defendants used fake companies and sent false information to US banks, which processed tens of millions of dollars worth of transactions in violation of sanctions, the prosecutors said. prosecutor said. The defendants also used cryptocurrency for transactions and to launder the proceeds, prosecutors said.
Orekhov and Uss also used NDA to ship millions of barrels of oil from Venezuela to buyers in Russia and China, working with two other defendants, Juan Fernando Serrano and Juan Carlos Soto, to broker transactions with the company. Venezuelan state oil and gas PDVSA, accordingly. The United States introduced sanctions in 2019.
Neither PDVSA nor the Venezuelan Ministry of Information immediately responded to requests for comment.
After the first round of US sanctions against PDVSA, Russia’s Rosneft has emerged as an important intermediary for Venezuelan crude. After Washington sanctioned Rosneft’s subsidiaries for their dealings with PDVSA, dozens of companies with no oil business record brokered the sale of Venezuelan oil to Chinese customers.
A Reuters investigation found that many of them were registered as websites in Russia.