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Miami-based businessman pleads guilty to conspiracy to violate Russia-Ukraine sanctions and to commit international money laundering

United States Department of Justice, Press Release

Sergey Karpushkin, 46, of Miami, Fla., a resident of the United States and a citizen of Belarus, pleaded guilty this month to engaging in a scheme to violate U.S. sanctions and commit money laundering by conducting transactions for the purchase and acquisition of metal products valued at over $139 million from companies owned by Sergey Kurchenko, a sanctioned oligarch.

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

According to the allegations in the information and other public filings: between in or about July 2017 and in or about August 2020, Karpushkin conspired with others to purchase and receive over $139 million in metal products from two companies that Karpushkin knew were owned and controlled by Kurchenko.

Karpushkin and his business associates, acting through the Florida-based company Metalhouse LLC, entered into contracts and purchase orders for pig iron, steel billets and wire rods from these companies, received tens of thousands of tons of metal products from the companies and agreed to share profits from these unlawful transactions.

Karpushkin and his business associates intentionally concealed from U.S. banks and government officials the ultimate source and origin of the goods they sought to acquire, knowing that they did not have the necessary authorization or license from OFAC to transact with Kurchenko and companies owned and controlled by Kurchenko.

Karpushkin pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Embry J. Kidd in Orlando, Fla., to one count of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and to commit international promotional money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Karpushkin also agreed to forfeit $4,723,625 in proceeds that he obtained as a result of the conspiracy. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

An indictment charging alleged co-conspirator and Metalhouse president John Can Unsalan, aka Hurrem Can Unsalan, with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of IEEPA, 10 counts of violating IEEPA, one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering, and 10 counts of international money laundering was unsealed on April 17, and Unsalan has been detained pending further court proceedings.

The FBI Tampa Field Office and the International Corruption Unit  of the FBI Washington Field Office are investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI Miami Field Office.

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 are prosecuting the case.

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.

Announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022, and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.