Florida Steel Trader Arrested for Sanctions Evasion

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Orlando-based Metalhouse LLC's President John Can Unsalan, 41, has been indicted and arrested for engaging in a $150 million scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against Russian oligarch Sergey Kurchenko and his two companies. Unsalan allegedly transferred over $150 million to Kurchenko and the associated companies between July 2018 and October 2021, receiving metal products used in steelmaking in return.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated that the arrest should act as a warning to others seeking to do business with sanctioned parties, and that the Justice Department will continue to pursue those who attempt to evade sanctions. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco added that the Department of Justice will use its authority to stop those conspiring with Kremlin allies to support Russia's attacks on Ukraine.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Assistant Director David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office emphasized the FBI's dedication to pursuing violators of U.S. sanctions. U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg for the Middle District of Florida thanked law enforcement partners for their work in the case.

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. His companies, Kompaniya Gaz-Alyans and ZAO Vneshtorgservis, were designated by OFAC in 2018 for providing material support to the separatist-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

Unsalan is charged with conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiring to commit international money laundering, and international money laundering. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for each count.