The U.S. Department of the Treasury and its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned a Russian businesswoman on Nov. 3.
The agency said that Russian national Ekaterina Zhdanova helped the country’s elites launder and move funds using virtual currency and other methods.
The Treasury said that Zhdanova used virtual currency to perform large cross-border transactions. Specifically, it said that Zhdanova was asked by one Russian oligarch to move over $100 million to the United Arab Emirates. Zhdanova was also involved in creating a United Arab Emirates tax residency service for Russian clients, which involved payments in both cash and virtual currency.
The agency added that Zhdanova laundered $2.3 million for an affiliate of the Russian ransomware group Ryuk, which typically relies on crypto payments. The Treasury believes that the funds originated as payment from ransomware victims.
The Treasury said that Zhdanova relies on services that do not have AML/CFT controls, including one Russian crypto exchange called Garantex, itself designated in 2022.
The Treasury suggested that Zhdanova additionally moves money through other traditional, non-cryptocurrency means, including cash, connections to other money launderers, and a luxury watch company. In March 2022, she helped a Russian client obscure and move more than $2.3 million to Western Europe through a fraudulently opened investment account and through real estate purchases.
Sanctions prohibit most transactions
Today’s sanctions block most transactions between Zhdanova and financial institutions or individuals. The sanctions also block the transfer of any of Zhdanova’s property that is held by a U.S. entity; furthermore, it requires such property to be reported to OFAC.
Though the sanctions apply to a variety of funds and property, an attached page lists three Bitcoin addresses that belong to Zhdanova and are now restricted.
OFAC has sanctioned numerous other Russia-linked entities, with many of those sanctions arriving in the wake of the country’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Other notable sanctions targeted the Russian mining firm Bitriver and members of a Dubai-based firm called Huriya Private. Chainalysis maintains a list of other recent sanctions.