Treasury Dept. sanctions Russian national suspected in money laundering

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned a Russian national for money laundering and for circumventing sanctions on Russia. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI

Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Friday sanctioned a Russian national suspected of laundering money for wealthy Russians and for ransomware groups.

"In response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, OFAC has imposed expansive economic sanctions on the Russian financial system. In March 2022, Ekaterina Zhdanova ... assisted a Russian client in obfuscating their source of wealth in order to transfer over $2.3 million into Western Europe through a fraudulently opened investment account and real estate purchases," the Treasury Department said in a press release Friday.

The department said Zhdanova was contacted by a Russian oligarch who wanted her assistance in moving $100 million worth of assets to the United Arab Emirates.

Zhdanova is also alleged to have helped Russian clients obtain UAE residency permits and bank accounts that would allow them to manage their finances globally without the restrictions of sanctions on Russia.

"Zhdanova relies on multiple methods of value transfer to move funds internationally. This includes the use of cash and leveraging connections to other international money laundering associates and organizations," Treasury officials said.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said, "Through key facilitators like Zhdanova, Russian elites, ransomware groups, and other illicit actors sought to evade U.S. and international sanctions, particularly through the abuse of virtual currency."

Additionally, Zhdanova is accused of helping the Ryuk ransomware group launder $2.3 million in illicitly obtained funds.

The Ryuk group is known to have targeted U.S. hospitals with ransomware attacks and was identified as a threat to U.S. healthcare facilities in 2022.