The United States has indicted Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev for sanctions violations.

The Russian billionaire and founder and owner of the Tsargrad TV channel had been previously placed under sanctions by the United States over his participation in the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region by Russia in 2014 and his public support for Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on April 6 that Malofeyev had been identified as a source of financing for Russians promoting the separatists and as providing support for the separatists in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

“After being sanctioned by the United States, Malofeyev attempted to evade the sanctions by using co-conspirators to surreptitiously acquire and run media outlets across Europe,” Garland told reporters at a news conference.

Malofeyev, 47, is charged with violating U.S. sanctions in connection with his hiring of U.S. citizen Jack Hanick to operate television networks in Russia and Greece and attempting to acquire a television network in Bulgaria, the Justice Department said in a news release.

Konstantin Malofeyev is believed to be in Russia. (file photo)
Konstantin Malofeyev is believed to be in Russia.

Malofeyev also conspired with Hanick and others to illegally transfer a $10 million investment that Malofeyev made in a U.S. bank to a business associate in Greece in violation of the sanctions blocking Malofeyev’s assets from being transferred, the department said.

Along with the indictment, the United States issued a seizure warrant for Malofeyev’s U.S. investments. Malofeyev remains at large and is believed to be in Russia.

The indictment was the first of a Russian oligarch in the United States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.

Garland also announced the “disruption” of a type of global malicious computer network known as a botnet controlled by the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU.

“The Russian government has recently used similar infrastructure to attack Ukrainian targets,” he said. “Fortunately, we were able to disrupt this botnet before it could be used.

U.S. law enforcement agencies, working with international partners, detected the infection of thousands of network hardware devices, Garland said.

“We were then able to disable the GRU’s control over those devices before the botnet could be weaponized,” he said.