The US Department of Justice formed a task force called KleptoCapture so that Russian businesses and individuals are unable to bypass sanctions via cryptocurrencies.
With sanctions piling onto Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine, its neighboring ally Belarus is also feeling the pressure from the west. The sanctions that mainly affected the financial sector of Russia were the removal of several major banks from SWIFT, alongside frozen personal assets of Russian oligarchs and businessmen.
However, according to the US Department of Justice, they have decided to cover the digital asset environment and launched the KleptoCapture Task Force. The team will make sure that Russian supporters do not bypass US sanctions including "export restrictions, and economic countermeasures" via cryptocurrencies.
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The task force will be looking into instances of malicious activity in the digital asset environment like incompliance of anti-money laundering and KYC, or Know-Your-Customer, ruleset issued by the United States government.
Likewise, KleptoCapture will investigate Russian aggressors who try to launder money through the United States by using digital assets with authorization to freeze any assets that do not comply with the sanctions imposed by the US.
Merrick Garland, the Attorney General at the Department of Justice Public Affairs Office, spoke on the newly instigated task force, stating:
"The Task Force will be fully empowered to use the most cutting-edge investigative techniques -- including data analytics, cryptocurrency tracing, foreign intelligence sources, and information from financial regulators and private sector partners -- to identify sanctions evasion and related criminal misconduct."
The report notes that the task force will include agents from several law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the IRS, and, according to Garland, KleptoCapture will "investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war."
Just a few days ago, the European Central Bank urged members of the EU to strengthen their virtual asset regulations to prevent instances of Russian assets bypassing sanctions.