Washington, DC - Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen Wednesday met virtually with representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission, to launch the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force. The task force was first announced by leaders on February 26.
The task force, consisting of Finance Ministry and Justice or Home Ministry in each member jurisdiction, each committed to using their respective authorities in concert with other appropriate ministries to collect and share information to take concrete actions, including sanctions, asset freezing, civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution.
Cooperation between the U.S. government and foreign partners has already yielded notable successes. In the last three weeks alone, information provided by U.S. law enforcement to foreign partners has contributed to the restraint of multiple vessels controlled by sanctioned individuals and entities. Collectively, these vessels are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“We are already working with our international partners to freeze and seize properties belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs worldwide,” said Attorney General Garland. “We will continue to work together to take all appropriate actions against those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war against Ukraine.”
“Our sanctions, trade restrictions, and other measures have already imposed significant costs on Russia, its leadership, and those who enabled Putin’s unprovoked invasion into Ukraine,” said Secretary Yellen. “This multilateral task force will raise those costs even more, by galvanizing coordinated efforts to freeze and seize assets of these individuals in jurisdictions around the world and deny safe haven for their ill-gotten gains.”
The REPO task force members discussed ways to ensure the effective, coordinated implementation of the group’s collective financial sanctions relating to Russia, as well as assistance to other nations to locate and freeze assets located within their jurisdictions. Participants also discussed the need to preserve evidence and determine whether these frozen assets, or other assets linked to these sanctioned individuals or entities, are subject to forfeiture. Finally, the task force discussed ways to bring to justice enablers and gatekeepers who have facilitated the movement of sanctioned assets or other illicit funds.
The Department of Justice’s newly launched Task Force KleptoCapture, which the Attorney General established on March 2, will help support this international effort. Task Force KleptoCapture is designed to help deploy U.S. prosecutorial and law enforcement resources to identify sanctions evasion and related criminal conduct.
In addition to the launch of the REPO task force, Treasury took steps to boost cooperation and intelligence sharing. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today will join in a statement with counterparts in task force member countries and others to increase information sharing. FinCEN will also release an alert for financial institutions about the importance of identifying and reporting suspicious transactions by sanctioned Russian elites, oligarchs, and their proxies that involve real estate, luxury goods, and high-value assets. FinCEN continues robust engagement with financial institutions through its public-private partnership authorities to enhance collaboration and information sharing and analysis.