US Justice Dept launches task force to pursue 'corrupt Russian oligarchs'
US Attorney General Garland testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be US Attorney General(AFP)

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the launch on Wednesday of a task force to pursue "corrupt Russian oligarchs" and violators of sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

"The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions," Garland said in a statement announcing the launch of "Task Force KleptoCapture."

"We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war," Garland said.

US President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, warned Russia's billionaires that the task force would "find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments their private jets."

"We are coming for your ill-begotten gains," he said.

Garland said the task force would be made up of more than a dozen prosecutors from the National Security and Criminal Divisions of the Justice Department and assets from other law enforcement agencies.

"To those bolstering the Russian regime through corruption and sanctions evasion: we will deprive you of safe haven and hold you accountable," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. "Oligarchs be warned: we will use every tool to freeze and seize your criminal proceeds."

© 2022 AFP