Steel Traders Guilty in Sanctions Plea


Both Florida men arrested this Spring in a scheme to launder funds for the fugitive "Gas King of Ukraine," through a Florida metals service center have entered guilty pleas.

John Can Unsalan, president of Orlando-based Metalhouse, LLC,  and Sergey Karpushkin, a Belarusian citizen from Miami, and were indicted and arrested in April for engaging in a $150 million scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against Russian oligarch Sergey Kurchenko and his two companies.  As set forth in court filings, between July 2018 and October 2021, Unsalan and Karpushkin conspired to transfer over $150 million to Kurchenko and sanctioned companies under Kurchenko’s control.

The two engaged in trade with these sanctioned individuals and entities to procure steelmaking equipment and raw material despite knowing that Kurchenko and his companies were subject to U.S. sanctions that prohibited doing business with them. The two traders received tens of thousands of tons of metal products from the companies and agreed to share profits from these unlawful transactions. No licenses from OFAC were applied for or issued for these payments or transfers.

Unsalan pleaded guilty October 3 in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Florida, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering to promote violations of the IEEPA, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Unsalan also agreed to forfeit $160,416,948.56 in proceeds that he obtained as a result of the conspiracy.

On Sept. 13, co-conspirator Sergey Karpushkin pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit over $4.7 million in criminal proceeds.   Karpushkins plea acknowledged violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ("IEEPA"), 50 U.S.C. § 1705; and other money laundering charges.  Karpushkin and his company, Cogentra USA, received $4,723,625 in Proceeds from the Offense, which included generating false and misleading certificates for sanctioned goods expropriated from Russian-occupied Ukraine that would suggest that the goods, in fact, originated in Russia.

Kurchenko was sanctioned by 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.


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