A federal court in the Southern District of New York today unsealed the first-ever criminal indictment charging a violation of U.S. sanctions arising from the 2014 Russian undermining of democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine.
According to court documents, John Hanick, aka Jack Hanick, 71, a U.S. citizen, is charged with violations of U.S. sanctions and false statements in connection with his years-long work for the sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.
“The Justice Department will do everything it can to stamp out Russian aggression and interference,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “As alleged in the indictment, the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev was previously sanctioned for threatening Ukraine and providing financial support to the Donetsk separatist region. The defendant Hanick knowingly chose to help Malofeyev spread his destabilizing messages by establishing, or attempting to establish, TV networks in Russia, Bulgaria and Greece, in violation of those sanctions.”
“Konstantin Malofeyev is closely tied to Russian aggression in Ukraine, having been determined by OFAC to have been one of the main sources of financing for the promotion of Russia-aligned separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” said U.S. Attorney Damien Williams for the Southern District of New York. “The U.S. sanctions on Malofeyev prohibit U.S. citizens from working for or doing business with Malofeyev but as alleged, Hanick violated those sanctions by working directly for Malofeyev on multiple television projects over the course of several years. The indictment unsealed today shows this office’s commitment to the enforcement of laws intended to hamstring those who would use their wealth to undermine fundamental democratic processes. This office will continue to be a leader in the Justice Department’s work to hold accountable actors who would support flagrant and unjustified acts of war.”
“Sanctions imposed by the U.S. government are in place to protect our national interests, as well as the interests of our allies around the world,” said Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “As alleged, Mr. Hanick worked for the benefit of Konstantin Malofeyev, a Specially Designated National under Executive Order 13,660 who provided significant financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea in 2014. The action we have taken today should serve as an example to all that we will use all the resources at our disposal to aggressively enforce our nation’s sanctions.”
According to court documents, in 2014 the President issued Executive Order 13,660, which declared a national emergency with respect to the situation in Ukraine. To address this national emergency, the President blocked all property and interest in property that came within the United States or the possession or control of any U.S. person, of individuals determined by the Secretary of the Treasury to be responsible for or complicit in, or who engaged in, actions or policies that threatened the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine, or who materially assist, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technological support for, or goods and services to, individuals or entities engaging in such activities. Executive Order 13,660, along with certain regulations issued pursuant to it (the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations) prohibits, among other things, making or receiving any funds, goods, or services by, to, from, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked.
On Dec. 19, 2014, OFAC designated Konstantin Malofeyev as a Specially Designated National (SDN) pursuant to Executive Order 13,660. OFAC’s designation of Malofeyev explained that he was one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, and materially assisted, sponsored, and provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods and services to or in support of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist organization in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk.
As alleged in the indictment, Hanick worked directly for and for the benefit of Malofeyev from at least in or about 2013 through at least in or about 2017, and continued to engage in this conduct after OFAC listed Malofeyev as a SDN, in violation of the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations. Beginning in at least 2013, Malofeyev began planning to create a new Russian cable television news network (the Russian TV Network), and Hanick began traveling to Russian in early 2013 to meet with Malofeyev regarding these plans. In or about July 2013, Hanick moved to Russia to work for Malofeyev on the Russian television network, after negotiating the terms of his employment directly with Malofeyev, including the salary he would receive, payment for his housing in Moscow, and his Russian work visa.
Hanick continued to work for and report directly to Malofeyev after OFAC designated Malofeyev as a SDN in December 2014. For instance, in January 2015, Hanick wrote an email to Malofeyev that a draft policy for the Russian TV Network was meant “to implement your vision and to provide you with information for you to make decisions … You are the founder and chief architect of the project. We, as board members have the responsibility to direct the staff to implement your instructions.” The Russian TV Network went on the air in Russia in or about April 2015. Hanick played a leadership role at the network, described at various times in emails from 2015 through 2017 as “Board Chairman,” “General Producer,” “chairman of the HR committee,” and “General Advisor” for the Russian TV Network. Hanick reported directly to Malofeyev regarding the network’s operations and was listed on organizational charts directly below Malofeyev. Hanick was paid for his work through two Russian entities that were nominally separate from the Russian TV Network, but his compensation was overseen by Malofeyev, negotiated with Malofeyev, and was for his work for Malofeyev’s Russian TV Network. Hanick wired a portion of the payments he received from a Russian bank account to a bank account he held at a bank located in New York, New York.
Hanick also worked for Malofeyev on a project to establish and run a Greek television network and on efforts to acquire a Bulgarian television network. At Malofeyev’sdirection, Hanick traveled to Greece and to Bulgaria on multiple occasions in 2015 and 2016 to work on these initiatives, andreported directly back to Malofeyev on his work. For instance, in November 2015, Hanick wrote to Malofeyev that the Greek television network would be an “opportunity to detail Russia’s point of view on Greek TV.” In connection with Malofeyev’sefforts to acquire the Bulgarian television network, Hanick took steps to conceal Malofeyev’s role in the acquisition by arranging to travel to Bulgaria with another person identified by a Greek associate of Malofeyev, so that it would appear the buyer was a Greek national rather than Malofeyev.
In February 2021, FBI agents interviewed Hanick about his work for Malofeyev, and Hanick made false statements about his work for Malofeyev, including the false statements that Malofeyev had no involvement in Hanick’s travel to Bulgaria, and that Hanick did not know that Malofeyev had any connection to the attempt to acquire the Bulgarian television network until afterward.
Hanick is charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and making false statements which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Pursuant to the request of the United States, Hanick was provisionally arrested on Feb. 3, in London, with a view toward extradition. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI is investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thane Rehn and Jessica Greenwood for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.
On March 2, 2022, the Attorney General announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. The task force will leverage all the Department’s tools and authorities against efforts to evade or undermine the economic actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.