On 29 July, a news item from AP said that Russian oligarchs have skirted US sanctions through “murky” high-end art deals, according to a US Congressional report that urged lawmakers to rein in an unregulated industry favoured by money launderers. It is reported that investigators traced $18 million in art buys to shell companies linked to Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, close Putin associates who US officials say benefited financially from the annexation of Crimea. The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations highlighted loopholes that exempt even the most lucrative art sales from financial safeguards aimed at stopping money laundering. The report claims that shell companies linked to the oligarchs moved at least $91 million through the US financial system after the sanctions were imposed. A former FBI agent who founded its Art Crime Team is quoted as saying that US art sales would plummet if Congress followed the subcommittee’s recommendation to extend the Bank Secrecy Act to businesses brokering high-value art transactions.
The report can be accessed at –