By Sarah N. Lynch and Luc Cohen
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Andrew Adams, a veteran federal prosecutor in New York City who has experience handling cases involving Russian organized crime groups, will lead the Justice Department’s new task force aimed at Russian oligarchs, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday.
“Together with our federal and international partners, we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war against Ukraine,” Garland said in remarks to the American Bar Institute’s National Institute on White Collar Crime.
Garland’s announcement came one day after he unveiled the details about the new task force known as “KleptoCapture,” tasked with investigating and prosecuting sanctions violations. It will also seek civil and criminal forfeitures to seize assets obtained through unlawful conduct.
The task force name references the word “kleptocracy”: a society whose leaders misuse their powers to accumulate wealth at the expense of those they govern.
The task force, to be run out of Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco’s office, will be headed by Adams, who joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in 2013 and has served as lead prosecutor on several prominent asset forfeiture and organized crime cases.
In 2015, Adams led a team that successfully recovered a rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen in 1980. In 2018, he led the prosecution of Razhden Shulaya, accused of running a Russian crime syndicate that sold stolen jewelry; rigged slot machines at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas; and ran underground poker games in Brooklyn.
Shulaya, described as a Russian “vor v zakone”, or “thief-in-law”, was convicted at his racketeering trial and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
In late 2018, Adams became co-chief of the office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises unit, according to his LinkedIn profile.
More recently, Adams has handled the first-ever prosecution under a new federal law allowing criminal charges against doping conspirators at athletic events involving U.S. athletes broadcasters and sponsors.
Adams’ team in January charged Eric Lira with distributing drugs, including human growth hormone, to athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics. The law enabling the prosecution, enacted at the end of 2020, is named for Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who exposed Moscow’s state-sponsored doping.
Lira has not yet entered a plea. His lawyer, Mary Stillinger, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by David Gregorio, Alexandra Hudson)