US accuses Russians of shipping Venezuelan military equipment and oil

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  • Russians used German company to ship items – prosecutors
  • Some components found on Ukrainian battlefield – prosecutors
  • German company also traded Venezuelan oil – prosecutors

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors charged five Russian nationals on Wednesday with evading sanctions and other violations related to shipping military technology purchased from U.S. manufacturers to Russian buyers, some of which ended up on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said electronic components purchased by Russian nationals Yury Orekhov and Svetlana Kuzurgasheva included semiconductors, radars and satellites. Some of the electronics obtained through the scheme were found in Russian weapons platforms seized in Ukraine, prosecutors said.

They used a German company to ship the military technology, along with Venezuelan oil, to Russian buyers, prosecutors said.

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Orekhov was arrested Monday in Germany. Another Russian charged in the case, Artem Uss, was arrested in Italy. The United States is seeking his extradition, prosecutors said. Reuters could not immediately reach any of the defendants for comment.

“We will continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those who fuel Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, evade sanctions and perpetuate the underground economy of transnational money laundering,” said Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor. of Brooklyn, 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 described Orekhov as a procurement agent and said some of the shipments of military and sensitive dual-use technology to Russian users violated US export controls.

US-sourced technologies can be used in fighter jets, ballistic and hypersonic missile systems, smart munitions and other military applications, the Treasury said.

The charges and sanctions come as Washington seeks to expand sanctions on Russia and crack down on the escape to pressure the Kremlin to stop its invasion of Ukraine.

In a first-of-its-kind gathering 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 its military-industrial complex.

“We know these efforts are having a direct effect on the battlefield, as Russia’s desperation has led it to turn to substandard suppliers and obsolete equipment,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said. in a press release.

Prosecutors said Orekhov and Uss own the NDA and used it as a front to buy the 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. Wednesday.

The defendants used fake companies and submitted false information to US banks, which processed tens of millions of dollars in transactions in violation of sanctions, prosecutors said. The defendants also used cryptocurrency for transactions and to launder the proceeds, prosecutors said.

Separately on Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Connecticut charged three people with violating US export controls by attempting to ship to Russia a computer-controlled grinding machine known as a “jig grinder” – which can be used in nuclear proliferation and defense programs.

The individuals – all Latvian or Ukrainian citizens – were arrested by Latvian or Estonian authorities at the request of the United States, prosecutors said.

VENEZUELAN OIL

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 negotiate the deals with the state oil company. Venezuelan PDVSA, on which the United States imposed sanctions in 2019.

According to the unsealed indictment Wednesday, Orekhov and Uss “repeatedly” bought oil from PDVSA and supplied it to a publicly listed Russian aluminum company controlled by a Russian billionaire and industrialist.

Without naming the company, the indictment says it was subject to U.S. sanctions from April 6, 2018 to January 27, 2019 – which matches the dates on which Russian aluminum company Rusal (RUAL.MM) was sanctioned. Rusal was founded by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who himself faces US charges of breaching sanctions.

Rusal did not respond to a request for comment after normal business hours in Moscow. A lawyer for Deripaska did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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 became a key middleman for Venezuelan crude. After Washington sanctioned Rosneft affiliates for their dealings with PDVSA, dozens of companies with no history in oil trading brokered sales of Venezuelan oil to Chinese buyers.

A Reuters investigation found that many of them were registered as web pages in Russia.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Alistair Bell and Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Luke Cohen

Thomson Reuters

New York Federal Courts Reports. Previously, he worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.

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