Andrii Derkach charged with alleged sanctions violations
A former employee of Rudy Giuliani linked to Russian intelligence was indicted in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Andrii Derkach55, whose first name is sometimes transcribed as “Andriy”, a Ukrainian citizen, is currently at large.
Dubbed an “oligarch” by prosecutors, the longtime Ukrainian politician was previously sanctioned by both the United States and his home country over alleged pro-Russian activities, which earned him federal sanctions.
According to US authorities, Derkach is a “Russian agent” who played a leading role in efforts by the Russian Federation to interfere in the country’s 2020 parliamentary elections, leading to his appointment by the Treasury Department. According to Ukrainian authorities, the deputy is a “pro-Russian propagandist”.
In a seven-count indictment obtained by Law&Crime, federal prosecutors allege that Derkach and his wife, most believed to be an unnamed co-conspirator, co-conspirator-1ducked those sanctions through a web of corporations to buy and own two luxury condos in the ritzy Beverly Hills enclave of Los Angeles County — while hiding Derkach’s own interest in both properties from US regulators and financial institutions.
An accompanying criminal complaint identifies Derkach’s wife as Oksana Terechova49, who is also a Ukrainian citizen.
One of the main features of the alleged scheme is the use of a so-called “corporate nominee” who was transferred $3.92 million from bank accounts in Latvia and Switzerland. Those accounts, prosecutors said, were registered with companies operating in the British Virgin Islands. The funds were then reportedly split in two ways: $3.2 million went to cash transactions that secured the two residences.
The owners of the two properties were corporations with no visible connection to the Derkach family — and without the candidate’s knowledge of who his clients actually were, prosecutors claim.
The additional $800,000, authorities say, was used to set up a brokerage account to be maintained by the nominee. The brokerage account money was then split into another brokerage account, which was used to make money for investments, and a business checking account, which paid for condo expenses, including taxes, homeowners association fees, and utilities. Meanwhile, authorities said neither Derkach nor his wife openly said who owned those accounts.
In September 2020, Derkach was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control – via the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, commonly known as the “SDN List”.
According to OFAC, Derkach was “an active Russian agent for over a decade who had close ties to Russian intelligence” who engaged in “covert lobbying” to undermine the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
In January 2021, the company Era-Media, which the couple ran together, was added to the SDN list.
“According to Ukrainian public databases and records, Derkach was the ‘founder’ and ‘beneficiary’ of Era-Media,” the complaint reads. “On Derkach’s own website, derkach[dot]com[dot]Among other things, Derkach was identified as “Honorary President of the Media Holding Era-Media”. Some Ukrainian public records listed Terekhova as the “beneficial owner” or “founder” of Era-Media.”
The document adds another wrinkle to these alleged attempts to deceive the people managing their US-based wealth.
“After OFAC added Era-Media to the SDN list,” the complaint reads, “Terekhova was removed from the list as ‘beneficial owner’ and ‘founder’ [Era-Media’s] Records.”
Of course, there is nothing illegal about the downsides of corporate obfuscation and tiered corporate ownership of valuable assets. Such practices are common. And at least for a while, Derkach and his family — including his children and his parents — used the apartments themselves, prosecutors say.
However, the court documents also claim that the purpose of the grim structure was to evade sanctions. Prosecutors also say that Terekhova lied on at least one bank application, that Derkach and his wife jointly deceived the corporate candidate (causing him to misrepresent a myriad of information to a myriad of parties), and that Derkach falsely claimed the same “Andriii to be Derkach. who was exposed to the “negative press” for years.
In December 2019. during the height of Robert Mueller-led investigation of the then President donald trump and his 2016 presidential campaign, Derkach met with Giuliani in Ukraine and charged the former New York City mayor with a litany of conspiracy theories — including a 50-page dossier designed to help Trump fabricate corruption charges against the future president Joe Biden.
SEE: Giuliani’s attempt to discredit Mueller was backed by a conspiracy theorist dubbed the “Ukrainian Putin.”
Derkach also sent some kind of package to the representative at the time Devin Nunes, who claims he never opened it and turned it over to the FBI. The nature and sequence of events surrounding the delivery of this package to authorities was later hotly debated by Nunes and the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in an ongoing defamation case.
While Ukraine’s politicians were once embraced by at least some in the GOP, lately they have become one unwanted person.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, say his deceptive accounts were used to conduct business even after Derkach was officially sanctioned.
He is charged with violating US sanctions, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering respectively. In addition, civil forfeiture proceedings are underway to confiscate the condominiums and the money in the accounts.
“The behavior of this Kremlin activist who has been sanctioned for attempting to poison our democracy has demonstrated that he is ready, willing and able to exploit our banking system to further his illicit ends. The US will not be a safe haven where criminals, oligarchs or sanctioned organizations can hide their ill-gotten gains or influence our elections,” the US Attorney said Breon Peace it says in a press release. “This office, along with our law enforcement partners, will use all available tools to prosecute those who evade sanctions and abuse the U.S. financial system, and we will identify, freeze and seize criminal proceeds whenever and wherever possible. “
Read the indictment here.
[image via screengrab/YouTube]
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