U.S. Government Settles Russian Money Laundering Case Involving Manhattan Real Estate
The abrupt halt of a U.S. civil case over alleged Russian money laundering involving New York real estate has at least one expert asking why the case was settled before it went to trial.
The civil trial was set to unearth how Russian mobsters allegedly stole $230M and hid some of it in high-end commercial real estate and luxury apartments in New York through a company called Prevezon. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but federal prosecutors settled with Prevezon Friday night, CNN reports.
U.S. authorities were looking to seize bank accounts and Manhattan condos from Prevezon and related companies that were valued at more than $20M, Reuters reports. Prosecutors said the properties were used to launder money stolen by Russian tax officials.
Prevezon, which did not acknowledge any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, is also released from any future lawsuits related to this case.
Some of those involved in the New York trial question whether there has been any political pressure or involvement applied to the case, which was settled for $5.9M. Illicit finance expert Louise Shelley told CNN the settlement was a win for Prevezon.
Shelley, founder of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, had been set to testify on Tuesday. She estimated Prevezon’s Manhattan real estate assets bought with the allegedly laundered funds are valued at roughly $17M.