The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), on October 19, accused five Russians and two Venezuelan citizens of using cryptocurrency to launder money for Russian oligarchs through the sale of oil barrels from Venezuela.
According to the press release the defendants smuggled millions upon millions of barrels oil to Russia and China. They also used crypto to hide some of the money.
Yury Orekhov and Artem Uss, the son of the governor in the Russian region Krasnoyarsk Krai), Svetlana Kunzurgasheva and Timofey Telegin are among the Russian defendants. Juan Fernando Serrano Ponce (also known as Juan Carlos Soto and Juan Juan Serrano), were also Venezuelans who served as intermediary between illicit oil deals done by the Venezuelan state-owned “Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.”
“Serrano Ponce & Soto brokered deals between PDVSA & NDA GmbH worth millions of Dollars, which were routed through complex groups of shell companies and banks accounts to conceal the transactions.”
What was the Criminal Network’s Operation?
According to the DOJ Orekhov was listed in the DOJ as the co-owner, managing Director, and CEO at Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH GmbH (NDA GmbH), a private company that trades industrial equipment and commodities in Hamburg, Germany.
NDA GmbH was used as a front to purchase U.S. military tech, including combat aircraft, missile systems radars and satellites. These were then sold on to other Russian defense companies.
According to the information, Orekhov admitted that he was working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch. He used his company (NDA GmbH), “as a facade,” and boasted that they would never be found out because of the intermediaries in the business.
“There was no worry…this bank is the worst in the Emirates…they pay everything.”
The criminal network also used Latin American couriers to obtain large sums of cash. These were then converted into cryptocurrency to launder the proceeds.
U.S. U.S. Authorities Expect to Extradite Defendants
Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York said that the defendants had orchestrated a “complex scheme to illegally obtain U.S. military tech and Venezuelan sanctioned crude oil” through shell companies or cryptocurrencies.
Michael J. Driscoll was the Assistant Director of the New York Federal Bureau of Investigation and Field Office. He appreciated the efforts of the authorities in dismantling a “sophisticated” network that had been set up by at least five Russian and two Venezuelan citizens.
Orekhov, Uss, and others are currently being held in Germany, and Italy respectively, while they await extradition proceedings at request from the United States. The defendants could spend up to 30 years prison time in the United States if they are found guilty.
CryptoPotato’s first article, Five Russians and Two Venezuelans Accused of Smuggling Oil, Millitary Equipment, and Crypto was published by CryptoPotato.
Marla Brooks – Financial Analysis
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