The Biden administration has sought to increase powers to send assets seized from Russian sanctions evaders to Kiev’s aid.
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland authorized the first transfer of funds confiscated from Russian oligarchs to help Ukraine.
Garland said in a statement on Wednesday that the money seized from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev will go to the war-torn country, which Russia invaded on February 24, 2022.
“While this marks the first transfer by the United States of confiscated Russian funds to rebuild Ukraine, it will not be the last,” Garland said.
Last year, the US Department of Justice charged Malofeyev with violating sanctions against Russia. Prosecutors said he provided funding for separatist Russians in Crimea, which the country annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
At the time, Garland also announced the “forfeiture of millions of dollars from an account at a US financial institution traceable to Malofeev’s sanctions violations.”
After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Garland announced a new task force, dubbed KleptoCapture, that specifically targeted Russian oligarchs who sought to evade US sanctions against Russian entities.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest and prosecute those whose criminal actions enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” Garland said at the time.
Among the assets Washington has seized is a fleet of superyachts, including a 106-meter (348-foot) vessel owned by Suleiman Karimov and valued at more than $300 million, which has been docked in Fiji.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden called on Congress last year to facilitate the transfer of the seized oligarch’s assets to Ukraine.
In December, Congress passed a law allowing some assets seized by the Justice Department to be transferred to Ukraine via the US State Department.
In April, the Justice Department asked Congress to expand the assets that can be sent to Ukraine, particularly money seized for violating export controls.
At the time, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Washington was “leaving a lot of money on the table.”