NEW YORK — An alleged Russian agent who was involved in US election interference efforts in 2020 was charged Wednesday with fraud and money laundering over purchases of high-end condominiums in California.
The US Justice Department said Andrii Derkach, who took part in an effort to smear President Joe Biden over his son Hunter Biden’s Ukraine ties, hid his identity from banks as he spent $3.9 million to buy two Beverly Hills residences in 2013.
Helped by his wife Oksana Terekhova, Derkach set up multiple shell companies and nominee accounts to mask his interest in the transactions, the department said.
Derkach, a wealthy member of the Ukraine parliament who the US says is a trained Russian intelligence operative, used the units for his family, and a daughter lived in one, according to the indictment.
The Justice Department said it had moved to seize the two units in the wake of placing sanctions on Derkach in September 2020, which froze any assets he has under US jurisdiction.
“The conduct of this Kremlin asset, who was sanctioned for trying to poison our democracy, has shown he is ready, willing, and capable of exploiting banking system in order to advance his illicit goals,” said US Federal District Attorney Breon Peace.
Derkach took a central part in the 2019-2020 effort by then-president Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani to portray his election rival Joe Biden as involved in corrupt dealing in Ukraine.
Derkach met Giuliani several times and provided the attorney with documents and taped phone calls from when Biden was vice president that purportedly proved corruption.
The claims have since been broadly debunked.
Derkach’s links to Ukraine and Russian intelligence are well-established.
His father was director of the Ukraine Security Service, and he attended the Russian security ministry’s intelligence academy before joining the Ukraine security service as well.
In 2020 the US Treasury said he “has been an active Russian agent for over a decade.”
Derkach, 55, was charged with seven counts of sanctions violations, bank fraud and money laundering, and if tried and convicted, faces up to 30 years in prison.
The Justice Department said his whereabouts are unknown.
In June Derkach was accused by the Ukrainian government of supporting Russia’s invasion and a warrant was issued for his arrest.