US will share nearly 500,000 dollars in criminal proceeds with Estonia for the reconstruction of Ukraine

17.02.2024 | 14:02

Today, at the Munich Security Conference, the Ministry of Justice of Estonia and US Department of Justice signed a cooperation agreement to direct nearly 500,000 dollars in confiscated criminal assets to the construction of Ukraine's electricity grid.
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The US Department of Justice will share confiscated criminal assets with Estonia in recognition of the cooperation with the State Procecutor’s Office and the Tax and Customs Board in solving international sanctions crimes.

“Preventing cross-border crime has been and will be an even greater priority in the future. Effective prosecution of sanctioned crimes is a very important part of this. In my opinion, this agreement provides additional motivation to deal with sanctions violations even more. The reason is very simple, the goal here is not only to detect, prosecute and ensure justice, but to direct illegal income to the victim, i.e. Ukraine. I hope that this will become the new normality for sanctioned crimes in other countries in the future,” emphasized the Secretary General of Ministry of Justice Tõnis Saar.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the unwavering resolve of the United States and our Estonian partners to cut off President Putin's access to the western technologies he relies on to wage an illegal war against Ukraine." said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who signed the transfer agreement on behalf of the United States. “This step for justice and restoration blazes a new trail toward combatting Russia’s ongoing brutality. The Department of Justice will continue pursuing creative solutions to ensure the Ukrainian people can respond and rebuild.”

According to the agreement, Estonia will use the distributed amount to help rebuild the Ukrainian electricity grid, which have been severely damaged in the Russian war of aggression. Support for the restoration of Ukraine's electricity grid will be provided through the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV).

In March 2023, the US Department of Justice seized $484,969 in proceeds of crime in a smuggling case involving an attempt to sell a jig grinder to Russia, which is banned without a license because it is used in nuclear proliferation and defense programs. As a result of the investigation, the grinding machine did not reach Russia. In addition to the confiscation, the US authorities, with the active support of the Estonian State Prosecutor's Office and the Tax and Customs Board, brought charges against several people and companies belonging to the smuggling network. The crime was discovered in the USA, but a company registered in Estonia was involved. Estonia extradited the Ukrainian citizen accused of this crime who lived in Estonia to the US in January 2023.

More information about the cooperation agreement can be found on the website of the US Department of Justice.

Maria-Elisa Tuulik

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