NATIONAL NEWS

2 charged in $150M scheme with sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch

Apr 19, 2023, 5:45 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A U.S. businessman and a Belarus national have been arrested in Florida and charged with violating U.S. sanctions in a scheme that involved purchasing over $150 million in steelmaking materials from an exiled Ukrainian oligarch accused of funding Russian-backed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

John Unsalan, 41, of Orlando, was arrested last Friday, and Belarus national Sergey Karpushkin, 46, on Tuesday, according to court records.

“The arrest of John Can Unsalan should serve as a warning to those who seek to do business with sanctioned individuals or entities that endanger the security of the United States and our allies,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“The Justice Department is relentlessly pursuing those who seek to evade sanctions imposed against the Russian regime and whose crimes enable the regime to continue its unjust, illegal war in Ukraine,” Garland said.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, eight years after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The two nations have been at war for more than a year, with Ukraine receiving aid from the U.S. and other NATO countries.

According to an indictment, Unsalan, acting through his company, Metalhouse LLC, transferred over $150 million to Sergey Kurchenko and his companies between July 2018 and October 2021. In return, Unsalan received metal products used in steelmaking and attempted to collect from Kurchenko millions of dollars of funds for undelivered products. Prosecutors say Karpushkin helped facilitate those transactions.

According to court documents, Kurchenko was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in 2015 for his role in misappropriating Ukrainian state assets or economically significant entities.

The two sanctioned companies – Kompaniya Gaz-Alyans, OOO, based in the Russian Federation, and ZAO Vneshtorgservis, based in the unrecognized territory of South Ossetia – were designated by the Treasury Department in 2018 as acting on behalf of and providing material support to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in the separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine.

Kurchenko left Ukraine in 2014, around the time former President Viktor Yanukovych was impeached and removed from office. Prosecutors in Ukraine issued a warrant for Kurchenko’s arrest shortly after he left the country and accused him of failing to pay $130 million in taxes and stealing $180 million from bank investors.

Unsalan is charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act; 10 counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act; one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering and 10 counts of international money laundering. The indictment charges Karpushkin with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions. Each count comes with a possible 20-year prison sentence.

An email seeking comment was sent to attorneys for Unsalan. Online court records didn’t list an attorney for Karpushkin.

National News

A sign is placed in front of the U.S. Naval Observatory, where Vice President Kamala Harris lives, ...

Associated Press

Democrats are rallying around Harris as she vows to ‘earn and win’ party nomination for president

Democrats quickly rallied around Vice President Kamala Harris as their likely presidential nominee Sunday after President Joe Biden ‘s ground-shaking decision to bow out of the 2024 race. But the fast-moving political situation remained volatile just months before the November election. Shortly after Biden stepped aside he firmly endorsed Harris, who would make history as […]

11 minutes ago

Associated Press

Hollywood reacts to Joe Biden exiting the presidential race

Hollywood was quick to react to the news that President Joe Biden was ending his bid for reelection and endorsing Vice President Kamala Harris. Barbra Streisand, a Democratic supporter, wrote Sunday on X that “we should be grateful for his upholding of our democracy.” While many paid tribute to Biden’s presidency, others wondered about the […]

54 minutes ago

A Delta Air Lines jet leaves the gate, Friday, July 19, 2024, at Logan International Airport in Bos...

Associated Press

Delta Air Lines says cancellations continue as it tries to restore operations after tech outage

NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines, including Delta Air Lines, continued to struggle to restore operations two days after a faulty software update caused technological havoc worldwide and resulted in several carriers grounding flights. Total cancellations within, into or out of the U.S. on Sunday clocked in at 1,461, according to the latest data from FlightAware. […]

59 minutes ago

Associated Press

US official says Biden’s meeting with Netanyahu remains on track, despite withdrawal from race

WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House this week as planned, despite Biden’s withdrawal from the presidential race, a person familiar with Biden’s schedule said Sunday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly, said the exact […]

2 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden participates in a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 2...

Associated Press

Biden’s legacy: Far-reaching accomplishments that didn’t translate into political support

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sitting in the Oval Office behind the iconic Resolute desk in 2022, an animated President Joe Biden described the challenge of leading a psychologically traumatized nation. The United States had endured a life-altering pandemic. There was a jarring burst of inflation and now global conflict with Russia invading Ukraine, as well as […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Here’s the letter that Biden wrote to say he would no longer seek reelection

WASHINGTON (AP) — Preident Joe Biden on Sunday posted a letter to social media announcing that he would no longer seek reelection. The decision by the Democrat came after building pressure from lawmakers, donors, activists and voters within his own party who had concerns about his ability to beat Republican Donald Trump in November’s election. […]

3 hours ago

2 charged in $150M scheme with sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch