US prosecutors may confiscate $5.4m from sanctioned Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev, following a forfeiture order from US District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan federal court, reported Reuters. The move marked the first forfeiture order issued for a Russian oligarch’s assets since the Department of Justice created a task force (KleptoCapture) in 2022 aimed at seizing the finances of Vladimir Putin's allies in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Prosecutors said in court papers late last year they were entitled to the money in Malofeyev's account at Denver-based Sunflower Bank as he sought to transfer it to a business partner in violation of US sanctions imposed in 2014.
Malofeyev did not contest the forfeiture request, and told Forbes Russia said that the move concerned funds frozen back in 2014.
Andrew Adams, head of the Justice Department's KleptoCapture task force, previously said that the first confiscated funds could be transferred to Ukraine shortly:
“These amounts are miniscule compared to the cost of the catastrophe inflicted by Russia on the people and the land of Ukraine, but the contribution is important.”
In July 2014, Malofeyev, the founder of Christian Orthodox channel Tsargrad TV, was put on an EU sanctions list because he was “closely associated with Ukrainian separatists in eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” in addition to “making a number of public statements in support of the annexation of Crimea and Russia annexing Ukraine.”
Malofeyev was then sanctioned by the United States and Canada for the same reasons later that year.