Russian National Indicted by U.S. for Allegedly Laundering $65 Million in Gold

Published: 03 May 2023

Gold Bars GoldA Russian national was indicted by the U.S. in a $150 million money laundering case, $65 million of which was allegedly used to illicitly purchase overseas gold bullion. (Photo: Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry), Wikimedia, License)

By Henry Pope

The U.S. indicted a Russian national for his alleged role in a US$150 million money laundering case, $65 million of which was used to illicitly purchase overseas gold bullion.

Feliks Medvedev, 41, a resident of Buford, Georgia, was indicted on Monday by a federal grand jury for allegedly operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and for the illicit transfer of more than $150 million across 1,300 transactions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is probing eight Georgia-based companies registered by Medvedev, through which he allegedly transferred millions overseas.

The companies, which are headquartered in Buford and Dacula, Georgia, do not show business expenses on their books, nor do they maintain employees on their payrolls.

These points, the U.S. Attorney's Office said, are red flags for money laundering activity.

“Medvedev allegedly used the American banking system to illegally transmit more than $150 million,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “These types of criminal actions pose a serious danger to the integrity of our financial system.”

Medvedev’s alleged crimes draw similarities with the proposed Stop Russian GOLD Act introduced last March, that, if passed, would bar any American citizen or entity from selling or trading gold from Russia’s central bank holdings, or from physically or electronically selling gold based in Russia.

The underlying purpose of the bill is to prevent Russia from trading its $130 billion in gold reserves on the international market, as the country seeks to circumvent the thousands of sanctions levied against it by the West, in response to its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Not only aimed at Russian nationals, the bipartisan bill seeks to prohibit U.S. citizens from engaging in any transaction whatsoever with anyone who purchases, transacts in, or transports Russian gold.

Gold is widely viewed as a safe-haven asset since it consistently retains its value during times of economic strife.

As of 2018, Russia was estimated to have as much as 1,857 tons in gold reserves, the fifth largest stockpile in the world.

As the bill awaits its senate vote, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order last March that bars all gold transactions with the Russian central bank.

“Money laundering is not a victimless crime.” FBI special agent in charge Keri Farley said of the 39 counts levied against Medvedev. “The FBI is committed to the fight against money laundering and to find those who are trying to hide right in our own backyard and illegally send cash overseas.”