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Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco Delivers Remarks on Signing of International Sharing Agreement with Estonia for Benefit of Ukraine



Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Today, Secretary General Saar and I will sign an agreement to use funds confiscated from Russian crimes to support the people of Ukraine, as they continue to bravely defend themselves against Russian aggression.

With this agreement, the United States will transfer nearly half a million dollars to Estonia – money that was secured via the Department of Justice’s Task Force KleptoCapture. Estonia, in turn, will pass the funds on to Ukraine.

Our Task Force confiscated these funds from an illicit procurement network that exported a high-precision machine tool known as a “jig grinder” from the United States. The network attempted to smuggle the jig grinder into Russia, but it was intercepted on the way. This piece of equipment can help develop dangerous weapons used for defense and nuclear proliferation activities. And today, it’s out of Russian hands.

We are transferring the confiscated funds to our Estonian partners – for the benefit of Ukraine – because in this case, our current authorities do not allow for a direct transfer to Ukraine.

While our authorities evolve, one thing remains constant – our commitment to standing with the people of Ukraine.

We launched Task Force KleptoCapture just days after Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine – the Task Force is focused on going after the ill-gotten gains of those who prop up Russia’s war machine.

In connection with the seizure of the jig grinder and forfeiture of these funds, we charged six individuals with export control violations and money laundering crimes. That includes a citizen of Latvia who pleaded guilty to charges in U.S. federal court just a few days ago.

Task Force KleptoCapture’s mandate is not only to prosecute those who violate our sanctions and export control laws to support Russian aggression; the Task Force is also determined to seize criminal profits and to use those assets to support Ukraine.

As outlined in the agreement, Estonia will deploy these transferred funds to launch a project designed to more rapidly and efficiently assess damage done to Ukraine’s electrical transmission and distribution systems.

This is an incremental step toward justice and restoration. But it is a necessary step. And it blazes a new trail towards combatting Russia’s ongoing brutality.

The Department of Justice will continue pursuing creative solutions to ensure the Ukrainian people can respond and rebuild. Dollar by dollar. House by house. Town by town.

And that includes working with Congress to expand our ability to transfer forfeited assets to Ukraine.

But I want to be clear: we are not waiting for Congress. The Justice Department will use its existing authorities to support Ukraine’s response. And we will not let up.

Task Force KleptoCapture has arrested numerous facilitators of Russian aggression and initiated multiple forfeiture actions against hundreds of millions of dollars tied to Russian oligarchs and other illicit procurement networks – and many more actors and assets are under investigation.

Our Estonian colleagues share a commitment to this critical mission. The investigation of this network and the successful forfeiture were made possible with the support of Estonian law enforcement.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with our law enforcement partners in Estonia and elsewhere to pursue justice for the people of Ukraine.

I would like to conclude by thanking those who made today’s announcement possible. This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Justice Department’s National Security Division and investigated by agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, the FBI, and the IRS.

Let me also thank our Latvian law enforcement partners who, like the Estonians, provided invaluable assistance to the investigation and prosecution of this case.

Global efforts to push back against Russia require global partnership. Today’s agreement is that partnership in action. Thank you.     

National Security
Updated February 17, 2024