Watch CBS News

Justice Department launches task force to enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a new task force Wednesday charged with going after the crimes of Russian oligarchs, after President Biden previewed it at his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

"Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime 'no more,'" Mr. Biden said. He continued, "We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts your luxury apartments your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains."

The Task Force KleptoCapture will be an interagency law enforcement group aimed at holding sanctioned Russian elites accountable, as Russia continues its aggressive invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions, imposed in cooperation with allies, aim to isolate Russia from global markets and punish Russian officials and elites in some way connected to the "unjustified act of war," as the Justice Department put it. The U.S. and European allies have been ratcheting up sanctions against Russian elites and even Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. 

"The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions," Garland said in a statement. "We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war. Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable." 

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said those "bolstering" the Russian regime will be deprived of a "safe haven."

The task force will be run out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and will be made up of staff with expertise in asset forfeiture, anti-money laundering, tax enforcement and foreign evidence collection, among other specialties. Aside from Justice Department officials across the country, the task force will include agents from agencies including the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. 

The task force will use tools ranging from intelligence sources to cryptocurrency tracing to seek out oligarchs who are trying to evade sanctions. European leaders are also on a mission to identify and seize the assets of sanctioned Russians. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.