Steel Trader Sentenced to Six Years, $160 million Forfeiture

Seamless Pipe (OCTG) in transit
Seamless Pipe (OCTG) in transit
Metalhouse, LLC

The president of Orlando, Florida-based steel trading firm Metalhouse LLC, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering to promote violations of U.S. sanctions against Sergey Kurchenko, a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch.   A business associate, Sergey Karpushkin, a Belarusian national residing in Miami, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for his role in the scheme.

John Unsalan pleaded guilty and was ordered to forfeit $160 million in proceeds from the offense. Karpushkin pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and to commit international promotional money laundering and was ordered to forfeit $4.7 million in criminal proceeds.

Kurchenko was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2015 for his role in misappropriating state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine. Two sanctioned companies – Kompaniya Gaz-Alyans OOO, based in the Russian Federation and controlled by Kurchenko, and ZAO Vneshtorgservis, based in the Russian occupied Georgian region of South Ossetia – were designated by OFAC in 2018 for acting on behalf of and providing material support to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in the separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine.

As set forth in court filings, Unsalan and Karpushkin engaged in trade with these sanctioned individuals and entities to procure steelmaking equipment and raw material despite knowing that Kurchenko, Gaz-Alyans and Vneshtorgservis were subject to U.S. sanctions that prohibited U.S. persons and entities from doing business with them. No licenses from OFAC were applied for or issued for these payments or transfers.

As stated in court documents, between July 2018 and October 2021, Unsalan conspired with others to transfer over $150 million to Kurchenko and companies controlled by Kurchenko. Unsalan, acting through his company, Metalhouse, engaged in trade with sanctioned individuals and entities and received tens of thousands of tons of metal products from the companies. Between July 2017 and August 2020, Karpushkin conspired with Unsalan and other business associates, acting through Metalhouse, to enter into contracts and purchase orders for pig iron, steel billets, and wire rods from these sanctioned companies and agreed to share profits from these unlawful transactions. The co-conspirators intentionally concealed from U.S. banks and government officials the ultimate source and origin of the goods that 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.  [11211]


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