Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, Kristina Puzyreva, 32, of Montreal, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy for her role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to send components used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and guided missile systems and other weapons to sanctioned entities in Russia. The components shipped in violation of export control and sanctions laws were later found in Russian weapons platforms and signals intelligence equipment in Ukraine.
“The defendant in this case flouted our sanctions and export control laws by scheming to send sensitive U.S.-sourced missile and other weapons components to Russia that were later found in Russian weapons systems on the battlefield in Ukraine,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “She now faces time in a United States prison for her actions. As we approach the two-year anniversary of Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, through our Disruptive Technology Strike Force and our Task Force KleptoCapture, the Justice Department will continue using all available legal tools and authorities to hold accountable those who supply the Russian war machine with critical U.S. technology.”
“Ms. Puzyreva admitted to taking part in an elaborate scheme to smuggle millions of dollars’ worth of restricted U.S. components for use in Russian weapons deployed against Ukraine,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Justice Department is committed to denying Moscow the resources it needs to prosecute its unjust invasion of Ukraine, and we will hold accountable covert enablers and profiteers who violate U.S. law to further Russian aggression.”
“The defendant was a necessary player in a scheme to evade export controls and sanctions and ship UAV and missile components to Russia that were later found on the battlefield in Ukraine,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Without the defendant laundering the proceeds of the scheme, the export scheme would not have worked. Today’s plea demonstrates that the Eastern District of New York will not allow criminals to endanger national security by supplying Russia with U.S.-sourced military technology. This Office will faithfully prosecute every member of a conspiracy to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The FBI and our partners will hold accountable those who violate our laws and enable adversarial nations to obtain U.S. technology to be used in foreign weapon systems,” said Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “In this case, the defendant laundered funds in a scheme which allowed Russia to obtain components used in guided missiles and other systems against Ukraine, and she is now facing the consequences of her actions.”
“Following the money is a law enforcement imperative. This defendant laundered money on behalf of several Brooklyn front companies to ship U.S.-origin electronics to sanctioned entities in Russia,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod of the Department of Commerce. “As today’s guilty plea makes clear, we are unyielding in our efforts to help prevent American electronics from being used in Russian missiles and drones that kill innocent civilians in Ukraine.”
As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, the defendant laundered money as part of a sophisticated export control and sanctions evasion scheme involving SH Brothers Inc. (SH Brothers) and SN Electronics, Inc. (SN Electronics), two companies registered in Brooklyn, New York. Using the SH Brothers and SN Electronics corporate entities, the defendant and her co-conspirators unlawfully sourced, purchased and shipped millions of dollars in dual-use electronics from U.S. manufacturers to end users, including sanctioned entities, in Russia. The electronic components and integrated circuits shipped were later found in seized Russian weapons platforms and signals intelligence equipment in Ukraine, including in UAVs and guided missiles. During the period charged in the indictment, SH Brothers made hundreds of shipments valued at over $7 million to Russia.
Puzyreva and her husband, co-defendant Nikolay Goltsev, traveled on multiple occasions from Canada to meet with their co-defendant Salimdzhon Nasriddinov in Brooklyn. During such trips, Puzyreva utilized numerous bank accounts to make financial transactions in furtherance of the scheme. For example, Puzyreva is the signatory on two New York accounts, including one that lists Nasriddinov’s home address in Brooklyn (also the registered address of SH Brothers) as the address of record. Records for these accounts reflect large, structured cash deposits in Brooklyn and Manhattan that correspond with trips that Puzyreva and Goltsev made to New York. These deposits were then transferred to accounts held and used by Puzyreva and Goltsev in Canada.
The scheme involved millions of dollars in transactions and was lucrative for the defendants. For example, in a text message exchange on or about Jan. 13, 2023, Goltsev complained to Puzyreva that a co-conspirator “asked me to make 80 accounts . . . I am making accounts for 3 mln [i.e., million]. Fingers hurting already from the laptop.” Puzyreva responded, “Lot of money? We will get rich.” Later, on or about Jan. 20, 2023, Goltsev messaged Puzyreva, “Dasha (a co-conspirator) paid. 700k.” Notably, financial records revealed wire transfers totaling approximately $700,000 into an SH Brothers account in or around January 2023 from a Hong Kong-based entity as part of an order for a sanctioned Russian entity.
The government seized $20,000 in cash from the New York hotel room in which the defendant was arrested. In total, the government has seized approximately $1.68 million dollars in connection with this export scheme.
When sentenced, Puzyreva faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. A U.S. district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Artie McConnell and Ellen H. Sise for the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney Christopher M. Cook of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case, with assistance from Litigation Analysts Mary Clare McMahon and Joseph Levin. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Mantell of the Eastern District of New York’s Asset Recovery Section is handling forfeiture matters.
The FBI, Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement’s New York Field Office, and Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Investigations are investigating the case.
Today’s actions were coordinated through the Justice and Commerce Departments’ Disruptive Technology Strike Force and the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture. The Disruptive Technology Strike Force is an interagency law enforcement strike force co-led by the Departments of Justice and Commerce designed to target illicit actors, protect supply chains, and prevent critical technology from being acquired by authoritarian regimes and hostile nation states. Task Force KleptoCapture is an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with its allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.