The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned a Russian national for her role in laundering and moving money for Russian elites using virtual currency.
Sanctions were imposed on Ekaterina Zhdanova on Friday as part of a crackdown on Russian states, elites and others using virtual currency to offset the effect of international sanctions, according to a statement.
"We remain focused on safeguarding the U.S. and international financial system against those who seek to exploit this technology, among other illicit finance risks in the virtual assets ecosystem," said Brian E. Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Officials say Zhdanova helped a client in Russia obscure their wealth to then transfer over $2.3 million into Western Europe through fraudulently opening investment accounts and real estate purchases.
"This type of illicit financial activity can be used to evade the multilateral U.S. and international sanctions that impose costs on Russia for its unprovoked war and deny the access of sanctioned Russian individuals and entities to the international financial system," Treasury said.
Zhdanova helped move millions
Zhdanova used OFAC-designated Russian crypto exchange Garantex Europe OU, which Treasury said was known for "blatantly disregarding AML/CFT obligations and allowing its platform to be used by illicit actors," as well as cash and through traditional businesses.
Zhdanova managed virtual currency transfers for oligarchs who relocated throughout the world, and at one point helped a Russian oligarch move over $100 million on their behalf to the United Arab Emirates, Treasury said.
Zhdanova also was part of facilitating a "United Arab Emirates tax residency service" for clients in Russia and possibly helped obfuscate their identities, Treasury said.
"Through this service, Zhdanova provided clients with United Arab Emirates tax residency, a United Arab Emirates identification card, and a bank account," according to the statement, "payments were alleged to be made in cash or by virtual currency, and to be received at a Dubai bank account, and then transferred from the Dubai bank account to foreign bank accounts at the discretion of the client."
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