Alleged Russian agent faces charges over Beverly Hills condo purchases

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

A sanctioned Ukrainian politician who U.S. authorities said has ties to Russian intelligence services was hit with new criminal charges Wednesday over his alleged purchase of two condominiums in Beverly Hills, California.

The charges were announced by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and the Justice Department's KleptoCapture task force against Andrii Derkach, a member of Ukraine's parliament who has been labeled by the United States as a Russian agent and who allegedly sought to influence the 2020 presidential election by meeting with and funneling disinformation about Joe Biden to Rudy Giuliani.

Derkach is charged in a seven-count indictment with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and four counts of money laundering. Derkach allegedly purchased the two California properties in violation of new U.S. sanctions imposed earlier this year and concealed his interest in the transactions.

"The conduct of this Kremlin asset, who was sanctioned for trying to poison our democracy, has shown he is ready, willing, and capable of exploiting banking system in order to advance his illicit goals. The U.S. will not be a safe haven where criminals, oligarchs or sanctioned entities can hide their ill-gotten gains or influence our elections," said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in a statement announcing the charges.

Derkach, who remains at large, was sanctioned for his alleged efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election on behalf of the Russian intelligence services while prosecutors said he simultaneously conspired to fraudulently benefit from a comfortable life in the U.S.

"Attempting to enjoy the safety, security, and freedoms of an open society, while secretly working to undermine that very society, is a hypocrisy that runs through every sanctions charge announced by the Task Force. It is a particularly egregious hypocrisy in the case of Andrii Derkach - sanctioned for attempts to undermine American democracy, while corruptly seeking to benefit from its protections," said KleptoCapture Director Andrew C. Adams.

Derkach, a member of a pro-Russian political party, allegedly schemed to purchase and maintain two luxury condominiums in Beverly Hills while concealing his interest in the transactions from U.S. financial institutions, according to the complaint. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Treasury officials previously said Derkach controlled two websites that helped spread disinformation about U.S. officials.

Giuliani traveled to Ukraine in 2019 with OAN news anchor Chanel Rion where the two met with Derkach for an interview and took documents from him. Federal prosecutors in New York investigated Giuliani's activities in Ukraine but decided earlier this year not to file criminal charges.

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