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Press Release

President of Metalhouse LLC Indicted for Sanctions Evasion and International Money Laundering

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Charged with Engaging in $150 Million in Sanctioned Transactions with Oligarch Sergey Kurchenko and Related Metals Companies

The Justice Department announced today the indictment and arrest of John Can Unsalan, aka Hurrem Can Unsalan, the president of Metalhouse LLC, for engaging in a three-year scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against oligarch Sergey Kurchenko and two of Kurchenko’s companies by providing those sanctioned parties with over $150 million in return for steelmaking materials.

As alleged in the indictment, between July 2018 and October 2021, Unsalan, 41, of Orlando, Florida, acting through his company, Metalhouse, transferred over $150 million to Kurchenko and companies controlled by Kurchenko. In return, Unsalan received from Kurchenko metal products used in steelmaking and attempted to collect from Kurchenko millions of dollars of funds for undelivered products.

“The arrest of John Can Unsalan should serve as a warning to those who seek to do business with sanctioned individuals or entities that endanger the security of the United States and our allies,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department is relentlessly pursuing those whose seek to evade sanctions imposed against the Russian regime and whose crimes enable the regime to continue its unjust, illegal war in Ukraine.”

“For over three years, the defendant pursued personal profit at the expense of our national security, by unlawfully transacting with sanctioned entities that were propping up puppet governments in Russian-occupied Ukraine, as alleged in today’s indictment,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “The Department of Justice will use all of its authorities to stop those who would conspire with Kremlin cronies to support Russia’s unprovoked attacks on Ukraine.” 

“For years, John Can Unsalan engaged in a scheme to do business with a sanctioned oligarch and his company through more than $150 million in illegal transactions,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Today’s arrest demonstrates the FBI’s steadfast commitment to pursue those who seek to violate sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked aggression toward Ukraine.”  

“Economic sanctions are critical tools used to protect the national security of the United States and our allies,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office. “During a three-year scheme, Unsalan allegedly transferred $150 million to Sergey Kurchenko, who was sanctioned for his role in misappropriating Ukrainian state assets. Let the defendant's arrest serve as a reminder of the FBI's commitment to bringing to justice those who try to evade U.S. sanctions in an effort to support sanctioned Russian oligarchs.”

“As highlighted by this arrest, we are firmly committed to enforcing the sanctions imposed by the United States against Russia for its malevolent military invasion of Ukraine,” said U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “Thanks to the dedicated investigative work by our law enforcement partners, an individual who willfully sent more than $150 million to a sanctioned oligarch is facing the possibility of a lengthy term of imprisonment.”

Kurchenko was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury 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. The two sanctioned companies – Kompaniya Gaz-Alyans, OOO (Gaz-Alyans), based in the Russian Federation, and ZAO Vneshtorgservis (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. 

Unsalan allegedly 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 Unsalan from doing business with them. No licenses from OFAC were applied for or issued for these payments or transfers. 

Unsalan is charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); 10 counts of violating IEEPA; one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering; and ten counts of international money laundering. The indictment also provides notice of the United States’ intention to forfeit from Unsalan the proceeds of his offenses.  

Unsalan made his initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Norway of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of conviction. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Tampa Field Office, Orlando Resident Agency, and Washington Field Office, International Corruption Unit, are investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and OFAC. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chauncey A. Bratt for the Middle District of Florida, Trial Attorney Emma Ellenrieder of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Trial Attorney Sean O’Dowd of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case.

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022, and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated April 17, 2023

National Security
Press Release Number: 23-426