What is KleptoCapture? Task force head reveals fate of billion-dollar trove seized from Russian oligarchs

What is KleptoCapture? Task force head reveals fate of billion-dollar trove seized from Russian oligarchs
The Justice Department has appointed Andrew Adams, a seasoned federal prosecutor, to head the new KleptoCapture task team (Kevin Dietsch and Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON DC: According to a US prosecutor, some wealth sized from the Russian oligarchs would be used to pay reparations to Ukraine. According to Andrew Adams, the leader of the task force established by the Department of Justice in 2022, a prestigious task force known as KleptoCapture has been pursuing Russia's wealthiest oligarchs for the last 10 months. The task force has accumulated nearly $1 billion worth of seized yachts, real estate, bank accounts, and assets from the oligarchs and intends to turn them over to Kyiv.

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In a speech to the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, Adams stated, “We’re… poised to begin the transfer of forfeited assets for the benefit of Ukraine,” Adams said in a speech to the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, noting the idea of the handover was a “relatively recent development,” with no concrete timeframe scheduled, as reported by New York Post. 

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What is KleptoCapture?

As per the DOJ, KleptoCapture is an interagency law enforcement task force with the sole purpose of executing the broad sanctions, export controls, and economic remedies that the United States, together with allies and partners, have imposed in response to Russia's unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.

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Who is the leader of KleptoCapture? 

The Justice Department has appointed Andrew Adams, a seasoned federal prosecutor, to head the new KleptoCapture task team. He has formerly served as co-chief of the Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises section in the Southern District of New York. 

According to the Hudson Institute, KleptoCapture is a part of the international task force REPO, or the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force, which has jointly frozen hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian state assets and tens of billions of dollars affiliated to ruling classes with ties to the Kremlin.

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What has KelptoCapture seized during its investigation?

According to reports, during his speech to Hudson Institute, Adams recalled that KleptoCapture has amassed a high-profile portfolio of seizures since its inception in March 2022, including "a couple of hundred million to a billion worth of yachts, real estate property, and assets" as well as weaponry bound for Russia during its unprovoked war. 

As New York Post reported, after Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014, the US first slapped sanctions on Russian oligarchs and other individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. These penalties were later renewed in 2018. KleptoCapture accelerated the sanctions investigations and moved rapidly to seize superyachts and other "mobile assets."

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"Last year, at the beginning of March, President Biden announced at the State of the Union that the Department of Justice would be standing up this task force with an emphasis on targeting criminally derived assets of the Russian oligarchs," said Adams. He said that KleptoCapture got started right away. "The first (step) was the rapid seizure of high-value assets around the world — yachts, planes, cash accounts, security holdings, and real estate,” Adams stated.

"The primary goal of those seizures was really a swift demonstration of the power, the breadth and the commitment of the United States to what is effectively an economic blockade of the people who provide the criminal and material support [to the Russian war effort]," he further said.

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The "high-speed chase" and subsequent seizure of the $325 million, 350-foot yacht known as Amadea, linked to oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, was the most dramatic instance of international cooperation. The seizure of a yacht that was "fleeing from an international dragnet, from the Atlantic through the Panama Canal and through the Pacific," according to Adams, "unfolded in weeks, not years." "It was truly a remarkable feat by a group of sleepless attorneys, agents, analysts and linguists all dedicated to the task force and our global partners around the world," he added.

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