US sanctions Russian who laundered money for Ryuk ransomware affiliate

US sanctions Russian who laundered money for Ryuk ransomware affiliate

November 6, 2023 at 12:26PM

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned Russian national Ekaterina Zhdanova for laundering millions of cryptocurrency for ransomware actors and Russian oligarchs. Zhdanova utilized her knowledge of cryptocurrency and blockchain networks to evade anti-money laundering controls. She also facilitated the transfer of large sums of money and helped clients obtain tax residency and bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates. As a result of the sanctions, Zhdanova’s U.S.-based assets will be frozen and transactions with her are prohibited.

Key takeaways from the meeting notes:

1. Ekaterina Zhdanova, a Russian national, has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for laundering millions of dollars in cryptocurrency for various individuals, including ransomware actors.
2. Zhdanova utilized her expertise in cryptocurrency and blockchain networks to move money through platforms such as Garantex, which had previously been sanctioned for aiding the Hydra Market, in order to evade Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism controls.
3. A report from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis provided additional information about Zhdanova’s public businesses, which may or may not be part of her money laundering schemes.
4. Zhdanova leveraged her connections to a global network of money launderers to further obscure her financial activities and access a more traditional clientele.
5. Zhdanova is believed to have laundered over $2,300,000 of suspected ransom payments made to an affiliate of the Ryuk ransomware operation, which targeted organizations in various sectors and extorted victims for high amounts.
6. Zhdanova’s money laundering process involved fraudulently opening an investment account and making real estate purchases to hide the illegal origin of the Ryuk affiliate’s money.
7. Another Russian citizen who laundered money for the Ryuk ransomware gang has been extradited from the Netherlands and recently pleaded guilty in the U.S.
8. Apart from ransomware, Zhdanova also assisted Russian oligarchs in evading sanctions imposed by the Western world due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
9. Zhdanova facilitated the transfer of over $100 million on behalf of a Russian oligarch to the United Arab Emirates and arranged for Russian clients to obtain UAE tax residency, ID cards, and bank accounts.
10. As a result of the OFAC sanctions, Ekaterina Zhdanova will have her U.S.-based assets frozen, and U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with her.

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