The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a former Fox News producer with violating U.S. sanctions imposed in 2014 after Russia annexed the Ukrainian Crimean territory.
The charges were unsealed on Thursday, a day after the Justice Department announced the creation of Task Force KleptoCapture, dedicated to identifying and seizing assets belonging to sanctioned oligarchs.
This was the feds’ first indictment under those sanctions.
John “Jack” Hanick, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on Feb. 3 in London for allegedly violating the sanctions by financing and working for a new far-right, pro-Putin religious Russian cable network, and helping efforts to establish other such networks, with Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.
U.S. citizens are prohibited from working for or doing business with Malofeyev, an investment banking mogul who is “closely tied to Russian aggression in Ukraine, having been determined by OFAC [the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control] to have been one of the main sources of financing for the promotion of Russia-aligned separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” per the authorities’ announcement of the arrest.
Hanick violated the sanctions by working directly for Malofeyev on multiple television projects between 2013 and 2017, according to the authorities. He is also charged with making false statements to FBI agents in connection with his work for the oligarch.
Malofeyev “was previously sanctioned for threatening Ukraine and providing financial support to the Donetsk separatist region,” stated Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Hanick “knowingly chose to help Malofeyev spread his destabilizing messages by establishing, or attempting to establish, TV networks in Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece, in violation of those sanctions.”
Hanick, 71, lived in Moscow during the years he was involved in developing the networks, but has since been living in London. U.S. authorities are seeking his extradition to the U.S.
Congress set a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for violating the sanctions, and a maximum of five years for a conviction on false statements related to such violations.
The indictment states that Hanick worked as a producer for a U.S. cable network from 1996 until 2011.
According to MarketWatch, the network was Fox News. A Fox spokeswoman confirmed to that outlet that Hanick “had worked there during that time and had been let go in 2011.”
Tsargrad TV, which was launched in 2015, was blocked by YouTube due to the sanctions against Malofeyev, the report adds.
The National Security Division worked with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the New York Office of the FBI on the indictment and arrest.