Seized Machine Tool Funds to Ukraine Reconstruction


Nearly $500,000 of forfeited proceeds of an illicit machine tool sale to Russian buyers will be used to support a drone-based program to assess the damage Russian aggression has done to Ukraine’s electrical distribution and transmission infrastructure.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Estonian Secretary General Tõnis Saar announced  the transfer at the Munich Security Conference Saturday Feb 17.   While making the announcement, Ms. Monaco indicated there was more to come:

"This is an incremental step toward justice and restoration. But it is a necessary step. And it blazes a new trail towards combatting Russia’s ongoing brutality.

"The Department of Justice will continue pursuing creative solutions to ensure the Ukrainian people can respond and rebuild. Dollar by dollar. House by house. Town by town.  And that includes working with Congress to expand our ability to transfer forfeited assets to Ukraine.

"But I want to be clear: we are not waiting for Congress. The Justice Department will use its existing authorities to support Ukraine’s response. And we will not let up."

The funds were forfeited by the United States following the breakup of an illegal procurement network attempting to import into Russia a high-precision, U.S.-origin machine tool with uses in the defense and nuclear proliferation sectors. Additionally, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, a citizen of Latvia charged criminally in connection with the procurement scheme pleaded guilty to violating U.S. export laws and regulations.

In April 2023 federal court ordered the forfeiture of approximately $826,000 in funds connected to an attempt to smuggle a dual-use export-controlled item to Russia. The high-precision jig grinder, manufactured in Connecticut, was intercepted in Riga, Latvia, before it could be shipped to Russia. The machine is subject to export restrictions due to its potential applications in nuclear proliferation and defense programs.

This funds transfer is the first of its kind from the United States to a foreign ally for the express purpose of assisting Ukraine, and the second time the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture has made confiscated Russian assets available for Ukraine—having provided $5.4 million in forfeited funds last year to the State Department for the support of Ukrainian war veterans.

The confiscated funds are being transferred to Estonia since under current authorities, the facts of this case do not allow for a direct transfer to Ukraine. Estonia will use the funds for a project to expedite damage assessments and critical repairs to the Ukrainian electrical distribution and transmission system, which have been purposefully targeted by Russian forces.

“The Putin regime has purposefully targeted critical and civil infrastructure in Ukraine to weaken morale, cripple the Ukrainian economy, and use winter as a weapon of war. The funds we are providing to Estonia today will be used to dramatically reduce the time needed to evaluate and prioritize urgent repairs to Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure, all in effort to literally keep the lights on,” said Task Force KleptoCapture Co-Director Michael Khoo.


In March 2023, an investigation into the attempted smuggling of a dual-use export-controlled item to Russia resulted in the forfeiture of $484,696, representing funds wired into the United States to purchase the item. The item, known as a jig grinder, is a high-precision grinding machine system that requires a license for export or reexport to Russia because of its applications in nuclear proliferation and defense programs. The jig grinder was intercepted before it could reach Russia.

In addition to the forfeiture, U.S. authorities, with the active support of the Estonian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, charged multiple individuals and companies who were part of the smuggling network. The transfer of the forfeited funds to Estonia is in recognition of the crucial assistance received from the Estonian authorities.

Among those criminally charged in the smuggling case, Latvian national  Ananics, 47, was arrested in Latvia on Oct. 18, 2022, and pleaded guilty earlier this week in federal court in Connecticut. Ananics admitted to his role in the scheme to violate U.S. export laws and regulations by attempting to smuggle a dual-use export-controlled item to Russia.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Ananics was the general manager of CNC Weld, a Latvia-based corporation. Beginning in 2018, Ananics conspired with others, including individuals in Russia and a Russia-based company, to violate U.S. export laws and regulations to smuggle a 500 Series CPWZ Precision jig grinder that was manufactured in Connecticut to Russia.

In August 2019, to finalize the purchase of the jig grinder, Ananics and others traveled to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he informed the sellers that the jig grinder was being purchased for the benefit of CNC Weld. Only after the jig grinder was exported from the United States did Ananics inform the sellers that CNC Weld was not the end user.

Ananics pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

U.S. authorities, working with Latvian authorities, intercepted the jig grinder in Riga, Latvia, before it was to be shipped to Russia. In March 2023, $484,696 in funds involved in the purchase of the jig grinder were subsequently forfeited.

In turn, Estonia has, in consultation with the United States, agreed to use the transferred funds to finance a drone-based program to assess the damage Russian aggression has done to Ukraine’s electrical distribution and transmission infrastructure.

In April 2023, an additional €312,192.44 (approximately $342,000) was ordered forfeited as part of a criminal sentence imposed on one of the shell companies involved in the jig-grinder smuggling network. The funds are currently held in Latvia pending final enforcement of the U.S. forfeiture order.

The international sharing agreement was prepared with the support of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture, and the State Department.

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, the 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. 


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