Konstantin Malofeyev, chairman of the board of directors of the Tsargrad media group, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Moscow.
- On Wednesday, the US charged Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev with sanctions evasion.
- He was sanctioned in 2014 for “threatening Ukraine” and financially supporting Moscow-backed separatists.
- The US alleges the oligarch conspired with an ex-Fox News director to illegally transfer $10 million.
The US Justice department charged Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev on Wednesday with sanctions evasion — the first indictment of its kind since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The FBI’s investigation of Malofeyev goes back several years, and concludes as some experts argue that sanctioning Russian oligarchs is a “PR exercise” that is “largely symbolic.”
Malofeyev, the founder of pro-Putin Russian television channel Tsargrad, was sanctioned by the US in 2014 over allegations he was “threatening Ukraine” and financially supporting a Moscow-backed separatist group. If arrested, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
He is accused of conspiring with ex-Fox News director Jack Hanick to illegally transfer a $10 million US investment from a Texas-based bank to an associate in Greece. Hanick, who previously worked at Fox News for 15 years and allegedly helped launch the Tsargrad media group, was also charged with sanctions evasion last month.
“Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev played a leading role in supporting Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine, continues to run a pro-Putin propaganda network, and recently described Russia’s 2022 military invasion of Ukraine as a ‘holy war,'” Michael J. Driscoll, the assistant director of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a DOJ press release.
The oligarch, who remains at large and is believed to be in Russia, said on state TV that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “holy war” against “satanists” and “pagans,” the BBC’s Francis Scarr tweeted last week. The US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia.
Hanick, however, currently faces extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, where he would be tried in New York City, according to the DOJ. Contact information for Hanick’s attorney could not immediately be found.
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