The US issues sanctions against Russians accused of interfering in elections through crypto
By Bob Garcia
The US Department of the Treasury alleges individuals are using crypto to disrupt the voting process
This year’s presidential election is heating up, and the US Department of the Treasury has been working to ensure that there will be no interference in the electoral process. Therefore, last Thursday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it has “designated four Russia-linked individuals for attempting to influence the U.S. electoral process.” These actions are believed to use a “wide range of influence methods and actors to target our electoral process, including targeting U.S. presidential candidates.” Among the accused organizations, the Russian troll factory Internet Research Agency (IRA) is believed to be using “cryptocurrency to fund activities in furtherance of their ongoing malign influence operations around the world,” according to OFAC’s release.
The other three organizations designated were Russian nationals, Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova, who are employees of the IRA. In the past, the Treasury Department also targeted Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin for the same reason after he apparently provided “material support to the IRA’s influence activities against the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.” Lifshits was also charged by federal prosecutors last Thursday as he allegedly served “as a manager in ‘Project Lakhta,’ a Russia-based effort to engage in political and electoral interference operations,” according to the announcement by the US. Department of Justice (DOJ). Apparently, “Artem Lifshits conspired with others to steal Americans’ identities and use them to open fraudulent bank and cryptocurrency accounts,” described Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
According to the prosecutors, “Lifshits and the conspirators allegedly used these fraudulently opened accounts to both promote Project Lakhta’s influence operations and for personal enrichment.” Project Lakhta is a Russia-based initiative that has the intention of engaging in political and electoral interference operations.