The US Justice Department on Wednesday launched a task force known as "KleptoCapture" aimed at straining the finances of Russia's oligarchs as the United States steps up pressure Russia to cease its invasion of Ukraine.
The interagency law enforcement task force will be dedicated to enforcing sanctions, export restrictions and economic countermeasures designed to freeze Russia out of global markets, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
The task force name comes from the word kleptocracy, defined as corrupt individuals who misuse their powers to accumulate wealth at the expense of those they govern.
"To those bolstering the Russian regime through corruption and sanctions evasion: we will deprive you of safe haven and hold you accountable," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. "Oligarchs be warned: we will use every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds."
The task force will be run out of Monaco's office, and will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of sanctions. It will use civil and criminal asset forfeiture laws to seize assets obtained through unlawful conduct.
On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden in his State of the Union speech assailed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country's attack on Ukraine.
"He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over," Biden said. "Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people."