Financial information sharing, alert among latest efforts to thwart Russian oligarchs, elites

Increasing financial information sharing with relevant authorities in countries that are teaming up to block Russian oligarchs and other elites and proxies from accessing their assets was announced Wednesday by the Treasury’s top financial enforcement arm.

The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also said it was also issuing an alert highlighting “the importance of financial institutions identifying and quickly reporting suspicious transactions by sanctioned Russian elites and their proxies that involve real estate, luxury goods, and high-value assets.”

In sharing information, the agency said it was joining with the financial intelligence units (FIUs) of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands in forming a working group on Russia-related illicit finance and sanctions. “The FIUs affirmed the need to identify concrete actions that participating Working Group Members can take individually or collectively to enhance financial intelligence on sanction-related matters; expedite and increase sharing of financial intelligence in sanction-related matters; establish FIU best practices based on lessons learned, and identify opportunities for actions and partnerships to combat the threat caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion into Ukraine; and strengthen and facilitate working relationships between FIUs and competent public authorities and the private sector addressing that threat, including by engaging with the REPO Task Force.”

The REPO (Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs) Task Force was also announced Wednesday by the Treasury and Justice Departments.

The FinCEN alert, the agency said, provides select red flags to assist financial institutions in identifying suspicious transactions and reminds them of their Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting obligations.

“Because real estate, luxury goods, and other high-value assets can be used as a store of value, a medium of exchange, or an investment, Russian elites and their proxies may use such assets to evade expansive U.S. and other sanctions and restrictions imposed in response to their support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the alert states.

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