Guilty Plea in Violation of U.S. Sanctions and Money Laundering Scheme
Sergey Karpushkin, a 46-year-old Miami resident and Belarusian citizen, has entered a guilty plea today in connection with a scheme aimed at violating U.S. sanctions and committing money laundering. This scheme involved transactions totaling over $139 million for the purchase of metal products from companies owned by Sergey Kurchenko, a sanctioned oligarch.
Background on Sanctioned Oligarch Sergey Kurchenko
The U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had sanctioned Sergey Kurchenko in 2015 due to his involvement in misappropriating Ukrainian state assets and economically significant entities.
Conspiracy to Violate Sanctions and Money Laundering
Between approximately July 2017 and August 2020, Sergey Karpushkin, along with co-conspirators, conspired to purchase and receive metal products worth over $139 million from two companies known to be owned and controlled by Kurchenko. Karpushkin’s business associates, operating through Metalhouse LLC based in Florida, entered into contracts for pig iron, steel billets, and wire rods, received substantial quantities of these metal products, and agreed to share profits from these illicit transactions. Importantly, they deliberately concealed the true source and origin of these goods from U.S. banks and government officials, fully aware that they lacked the necessary authorization or license from OFAC to engage with Kurchenko and his associated companies.
Guilty Plea and Penalties
Sergey Karpushkin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and to commit international promotional money laundering. This charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. Additionally, Karpushkin has agreed to forfeit $4,723,625 in proceeds obtained from the conspiracy. The final sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge, taking into account U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other relevant statutory factors.
Charges Against Co-Conspirator
An indictment has been unsealed charging another alleged co-conspirator and Metalhouse president, John Can Unsalan (aka Hurrem Can Unsalan). The indictment includes charges of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, violating IEEPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and international money laundering. Unsalan has been detained pending further legal proceedings.
The FBI Tampa Field Office and the International Corruption Unit of the FBI Washington Field Office are leading the investigation, with valuable assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI Miami Field Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emma Ellenrieder of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt for the Middle District of Florida, and Trial Attorney Sean O’Dowd of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Section.
Task Force KleptoCapture and Russian Military Aggression Response
This investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, this task force was announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022. It will continue to utilize all available tools and authorities to combat efforts aimed at evading or undermining the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.