The Justice Department has charged a Russian spy who fed Rudy Giuliani bogus dirt on the Biden family with money laundering over his alleged attempt to secretly buy two luxury Beverly Hills condos.
Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian member of parliament who the Trump administration accused of being “an active Russian agent for over a decade,” allegedly used a shell corporation to hide his ownership of the condos and move the $4 million used to buy them, according to a criminal complaint.
“While participating in a scripted Russian disinformation campaign seeking to undermine U.S. institutions, Derkach simultaneously conspired to fraudulently benefit from a Western lifestyle for himself and his family in the United States,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Driscoll said in a press release accompanying the charges.
The Trump administration sanctioned Derkach shortly before the 2020 election on the grounds that he was “an active Russian agent for over a decade” who had “waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives” to influence the presidential election.
Derkach featured prominently in efforts by Rudy Giuliani to spread bogus conspiracy theories that former Vice President Joe Biden pressuring Ukraine to commit to anti-corruption measures was a secret plot to quash a criminal investigation of Burisma, a Ukrainian company where Biden’s son, Hunter, served as a board member.
Giuliani publicly met with Derkach during a 2019 trip to Ukraine, where the then Trump lawyer was soliciting dirt about the Bidens in anticipation of the upcoming presidential election.
Derkach also cozied up to congressional Republicans by sending packages of alleged Biden dirt to Sens. Chuck Grassley, Ron Johnson, and then-Rep. Devin Nunes. U.S. intelligence and fellow lawmakers repeatedly warned lawmakers that Derkach had ties to Russian intelligence and was seeking to undermine the election, making some Republicans skittish about embracing the Ukrainian politician. But Giuliani was undeterred.
“The chance that Derkach is a Russian spy is no better than 50/50,” Giuliani himself admitted to The Daily Beast in an interview after the Trump administration sanctioned the Ukrainian oligarch.
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. charged Derkach with seven counts of money laundering, bank fraud, and sanctions evasion charges but he is unlikely to make an appearance in a U.S. court anytime soon. Derkach appears to have fled Ukraine following a series of criminal investigations of him by prosecutors and intelligence agencies in Kyiv earlier this year.
In June, Ukrainian intelligence claimed that Derkach was an agent of the Russian military’s intelligence service who had plotted with Moscow to use private security companies to assist with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In October, Ukraine’s anti-corruption court ordered the oligarch detained on charges that he accepted over half a million dollars in payments from Russian intelligence but noted that he remains a wanted fugitive.