American Lawyer Pleads Guilty Over Work for Sanctioned Russian Oligarch

WSJ reports

A New York lawyer has pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from payments he made for Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, the latest in a crackdown on the white-collar professionals who federal prosecutors say are key enablers of the Kremlin’s sanctions-evasion efforts.

The lawyer, Robert Wise, helped Mr. Vekselberg make about $3.8 million in payments to maintain six properties in New York and Florida owned by the Russian billionaire, prosecutors say. The Pelham, N.Y., resident pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Tuesday to one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering and agreed to pay $210,000.

Mr. Wise is scheduled to be sentenced in November before District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, prosecutors said.

A lawyer for Mr. Wise didn’t return a request for comment.

The Justice Department has vowed to step up its efforts to investigate lawyers, accountants and other professionals who assist Russian oligarchs, as part of the Biden administration’s pressure campaign against President Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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