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US charges ex-Ukrainian MP, alleged spy

An ex-Ukrainian MP accused of helping Russia interfere in the 2020 US election has been charged in the US with money laundering and sanctions violations.

December 8, 2022
By Larry Neumeister and Eric Tucker
8 December 2022

A former Ukrainian legislator who US authorities say acted as a Russian agent for over a decade and tried to influence the 2020 presidential election through meetings with Rudy Giuliani has been criminally charged in connection with purchases of luxury property in Los Angeles.

The charges against Andrii Derkach, 55, of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, were announced on Wednesday in Brooklyn by US attorney Breon Peace.

Derkach has been characterised by the US government as an “active Russian agent” for more than a decade. Authorities say he met Donald Trump ally Giuliani multiple times during the 2020 race and released heavily edited recordings of Democrat Joe Biden in an effort to discredit him.

Prosecutors also say Derkach sought to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family through the purchase of two Beverly Hills apartments even as he hid his interests in the transactions from banks.

The indictment includes charges of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering.

“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 the banking system in order to advance his illicit goals,” Peace said in a statement.

Michael J Driscoll, head of the FBI’s New York office, noted that Derkach was sanctioned in September 2020 by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for trying to influence the 2020 election on behalf of Russian intelligence through a “covert influence campaign”.

Derkach, a fugitive whose whereabouts are unknown, could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of conspiring to violate sanctions and other conspiracy and money laundering charges.

He served for about a decade in Ukraine’s parliament as a member of a pro-Russian political party that was in power from 2010 to 2014.

According to the indictment, Derkach and a co-conspirator began in 2013 to pursue the purchase of the two apartments.

As part of Wednesday’s legal actions, prosecutors filed a civil forfeiture action to seize the properties and money that remains in US brokerage and bank accounts controlled by Derkach.

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