FinCEN, Allied FIUs Target Russian Finances

By Valentina Pasquali

The U.S. financial intelligence unit outlined plans Wednesday to boost exchanges of data on illicit transfers linked to Russia with the FIUs of Canada, the U.K. and seven other countries, weeks after the Kremlin triggered unprecedented international sanctions by invading Ukraine.

Officials with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, made the announcement as part of a broader effort by the U.S. and other western governments to stop funds from flowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his closest political and commercial allies at home, and possibly to officials in neighboring Belarus as well.

The FIUs committed in a joint statement to “identify concrete actions” to promptly inform one another of any movement of funds or assets associated with blacklisted Russians, share best practices, and intensify cooperation with each other and with the respective government authorities and private sectors.

Wednesday also brought the first meeting of a larger taskforce of representatives from the finance, justice or home ministries of the same 10 nations.

The Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs, or REPO, taskforce aims to unify efforts by the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the U.K. to seize assets from wealthy Russians tied to the Kremlin, and potentially open criminal investigations against them.

Braddock Stevenson, former deputy associate director of FinCEN’s enforcement division, said the taskforce’s primary focus on building financial intelligence could precede the issuance of new, temporary ad-hoc reporting requirements on additional industries.

“Businesses previously outside of the Bank Secrecy Act’s grasp may very soon find themselves subject to these new ad-hoc reporting regimes, and supporting the government’s crackdown on Russian oligarchs and other elites,” said Stevenson, now counsel at the Paul Hastings law firm in Washington, D.C.

FinCEN also issued a second alert in as many weeks on Wednesday to press upon financial institutions the importance of reporting any transactions that may involve properties, artwork, jewelry, yachts or other valuable assets held by Russian politicos and politically connected businessmen, as well as their relatives and associates.

Financial institutions should stay alert for any sale or transfer of commercial or residential property involving foreign legal entities or trusts, bearing artificially inflated price tags, or occurring solely in cash or through financing by a third party known to have ties to Russia, the bureau warned in the 12-page notice.

Institutions should also screen for any changes made to insurance policies for high value works of art linked to blacklisted Russians or their front men. Payments involving traders of precious metals, stones and jewelry dealers based in Asia and known to work with Russian nationals should also raise a red flag, FinCEN warned.

The bureau previously warned on March 7 that blacklisted Russians may rely on obscure offshore corporate structures to open new bank accounts and wire money through financial institutions in separate jurisdictions, or use cryptocurrency to move funds.

Treasury also launched a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program on Wednesday for whistleblowers who provide information that leads to the confiscation of corruptly obtained assets, including those linked to the Kremlin.

Contact Valentina Pasquali at

Topics : Anti-money laundering , Sanctions
Source: U.S.: Department of Treasury , U.S.: FinCEN
Document Date: March 16, 2022