US Alleges 5 Russian Nationals Used Crypto as Part of Sanctions Evasion, Smuggling Scheme

Defendants allegedly laundered "millions of dollars" using Tether.

AccessTimeIconOct 19, 2022 at 6:17 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 20, 2022 at 3:19 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Federal prosecutors alleged that five Russian nationals laundered "millions of dollars" worth of cryptocurrency as part of a scheme to smuggle military technology and oil.

Yury Orekhov, Artem Uss, Svetlana Kuzurgasheva (also known as “Lana Neumann”), Timofey Telegin and Sergey Tulyakov are being charged with attempting to evade sanctions against Venezuelan oil producers and obtaining technology used in the U.S. F-22, an air superiority fighter. The defendants allegedly used shell companies and cryptocurrencies to launder the funds involved in this scheme, though a Department of Justice press release did not specify the amounts or types of cryptocurrency used.

An indictment published later in the day suggested the defendants looked to the tether stablecoin for a transaction.

Defendants Orekhov and Uss were arrested on Monday, according to the press release. The charges were brought by Task Force KleptoCapture, a DOJ initiative focused on sanctions and economic countermeasures focused on Russia after the nation invaded Ukraine.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said the defendants "were criminal enablers for oligarchs, orchestrating a complex scheme to unlawfully obtain U.S. military technology and Venezuelan sanctioned oil through a myriad of transactions involving shell companies and cryptocurrency" in a statement.

Andrew Adams, the director of Task Force KleptoCapture, echoed the sentiment in his own statement.

“Stamping out evasion of export controls on military technology is among the Task Force’s highest priorities, and today’s arrests reflects the power of those controls when enforced by a dedicated team of expert agents and devoted foreign partners," he said.

The DOJ announced KleptoCapture in March, saying the team would focus on economic sanctions against oligarchs in response to Russia's invasion. The entity said crypto tracing would be one key focus for the group at the time.

UPDATE (Oct. 20, 2022, 03:20 UTC): Adds additional information.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.