October 5, 2023

DOJ secures guilty plea in sanctions violations conspiracy

Jon (“Hurrem”) Can Unsalan, a US citizen, has pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 USC § 1956(h).  The offense carries a maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $500,000.  In April 2023, a 22-count indictment was handed down against Unsalan.  With the plea deal, all but Count Twelve were dismissed.

Beginning in February 2014, Unsalan controlled a Florida-registered company called Metalhouse, LLC, which operated in the steel industry by trading and distributing raw steel-making materials in various regions worldwide.  According to the statement of facts acknowledged by the defendant, he and Metalhouse, along with Sergey Karpushkin and other co-conspirators, engaged in business with companies controlled by Sergey Vitalievich Kurchenko, who was designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control on July 30, 2015 for his role in the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine.  Kurchenko was designated pursuant to Executive Orders 13660, 13661, and 13662, issued in March 2014 following the Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula; these Executive Orders authorize the blocking of property and interests in property of persons involved in the Crimean invasion.  Kurchenko’s  designation was followed by the January 2018 designation of Kompaniya Gaz-Alyans, OOO and ZAO Vneshtorgservis, companies that are controlled by Kurchenko and were integral to the metal sales and money laundering.

In addition to knowingly conducting millions of dollars in business with entities owned or controlled by Kurchenko – including companies incorporated in Cyprus and Hong Kong – Unsalan and Karpushkin traveled to Moscow to meet with Kurchenko in early 2019.  While conducting business with Kurchenko’s companies, Unsalan and Karpushkin discussed generating false and misleading certificates to disguise the origin of goods expropriated from Ukraine.

As admitted by Unsalan, he and Metalhouse received over $160 million in proceeds from these illegal transactions, and laundered the funds through shell corporations created to conceal their ownership by a designated person (Kurchenko).  As part of the plea agreement, Unsalan has agreed to forfeit $160,416,948.56, representing the proceeds he obtained as a result of the conspiracy.

Unsalan is scheduled to be sentenced on January 16, 2014.  His co-consiprator, Karpushkin, has also entered a guilty plea in the Middle District of Florida.

DOJ press release | Plea Agreement| Indictment