Sanctions Against Oligarchs

Vadim Wolfson Arrest in Austin: Links to Russian Oligarch Uncovered 2024

In Austin, a Russian national, Vadim Wolfson, previously known as Vadim Belyaev, was arrested on Thursday under an unsealed indictment for his purported business dealings with a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Public records indicate that Vadim Wolfson was apprehended at one of the two properties he owns in Austin, where he currently holds legal permanent residency in the U.S.

The indictment reveals that Vadim Wolfson was instrumental in the establishment of Bank Otkritie, which was formerly among the largest privately-owned banks in Russia, before departing from Russia around 2018.

Vadim Wolfson Links to Russian Oligarch Andrey Kostin

According to court documents, Wolfson and several other defendants allegedly engaged in financial transactions with Andrey Kostin, the CEO of VTB, a Russian state-owned bank. In 2018, Kostin was sanctioned by the U.S., and he was classified as a Specially Designated National (SDN) by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control due to his association with the bank.

VTB CEO Andrei Kostin and Putin
VTB CEO Andrei Kostin and Putin

Following an individual’s designation as an SDN, there are substantial limitations imposed on their capacity to engage in transactions within the United States or with U.S. persons, and conversely.

As per the indictment, both before and after Kostin’s sanctioning, he purportedly utilized shell companies to manage and oversee assets valued at tens of millions of dollars, thereby breaching the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

Wolfson’s purported involvement in the matter pertained to Kostin’s residence in Aspen, Colorado. The indictment alleges that Wolfson realized a profit of $12 million from the sale of the property, which he subsequently transferred to Kostin.

Vadim Wolfson, alongside another defendant, was apprehended on Thursday as part of a comprehensive initiative by the Department of Justice, strategically timed just before the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

Attorney General Merrick Garland disclosed the initiation of “significant enforcement measures” in five distinct federal cases targeting “sanctioned oligarchs and networks aiding the Russian government” on Thursday.

“In the Southern District of New York, we have filed charges against the president and chairman of one of Russia’s largest state-owned banks and accomplices for violations of sanctions and money laundering,” stated Garland, alluding to Kostin, Wolfson, and other unnamed individuals.

“These actions represent just a fraction of the work the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture has been engaged in for the past two years. During that time, we have seized, restrained, or sought the forfeiture of nearly $700 million in assets of sanctioned oligarchs and other enablers of the Russian regime,” said Garland. “We are more committed than ever to cutting off the flow of illegal funds that are fueling Putin’s war, and to holding accountable those who continue to enable it.”

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