The United States has announced the formation of a task force that will enforce the sweeping sanctions against Russia announced by President Biden, including actions against the powerful billionaire oligarchs.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the export restrictions and economic countermeasures Biden placed on Russia.
"The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
"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," he added. "Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable."
Those laws apply to the oligarchs, a group of Putin’s closest associates who become billionaires in the first years of the post-Soviet regime in Russia as they carved up various industries amongst themselves. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco pledged to deprive these men of any "safe haven" and to hold them accountable.
"Oligarchs be warned: we will deprive you of safe haven and hold you accountable," she said, saying the department will use "every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds."
Such assets include their yachts, such as Oleg Deripaska's $65 million Clio and Vagit Aleksperov's $80 million Galactica Super Nova, CBS News reported.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, local time. World leaders and diplomats widely condemned the attack and promised strong sanctions in response, including the United States.
The effort underscores the united effort between the government and private sector to ensure a strong response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The task force will also focus on efforts to use cryptocurrency to evade U.S. sanctions and launder proceeds of foreign corruption, including data analytics, crypto-tracing and sharing information with financial regulators and private sector partners.