Ukrainian national pleads guilty to money laundering charge stemming from attempt to export dual-use high precision jig grinder to Russia


Date: May 23, 2024


Stanislav Romanyuk, a citizen of Ukraine last residing in Estonia, pleaded guilty yesterday in New Haven federal court to a money laundering charge stemming from his role in a scheme to violate United States export laws and regulations by attempting to smuggle a dual-use export-controlled item to Russia.

U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery; Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Michael Khoo Directors of Task Force KleptoCapture; Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Krol of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New England; Acting Special Agent in Charge Aaron Tambrini of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, Boston Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Robert Fuller of the FBI New Haven Division; and Special Agent in Charge Harry T. Chavis, Jr. of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England, made the announcement.

According to court documents and statements made in court, beginning in 2018, Romanyuk, who operated Estonia-based BY Trade OÜ, conspired with Vadims Ananics and Eriks Mamonovs, both citizens of Latvia who operated CNC Weld, a Latvia-based corporation, and with individuals in Russia and a Russian company, to violate U.S. export laws and regulations to smuggle a 500 Series CPWZ Precision Jig Grinder that was manufactured in Connecticut to Russia.

A jig grinder is a high-precision grinding machine system that does not require a license to export to European Union countries, but does require a license for export and reexport to Russia because of its potential application in nuclear proliferation and defense programs. Romanyuk and his co-conspirators knew that the jig grinder could not be exported from the U.S. to Russia or any country outside the European Union, and they did not apply for, receive, or possess a license of authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce to export or reexport the jig grinder to Russia, as required by the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 and the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), which restrict the export of items that could make a significant contribution to the military potential of other nations or that could be detrimental to U.S. foreign policy and national security.

In April 2019, Romanyuk brokered the sale of the jig grinder from By Trade OÜ to a Russian company using funds wired to it from the Russian company to purchase the jig grinder from Sapphire Universal, LLP, a company in Latvia. Sapphire Universal, which Romanyuk knew was in the business of obtaining dual use items from the U.S. for sale in Russia, used CNC Weld as the claimed recipient and end-user of the jig grinder because no license was required to export the jig grinder to Latvia from the U.S. In August 2019, to finalize the purchase of the jig grinder, Ananics and others traveled to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Ananics informed the sellers that the jig grinder was being purchased for the benefit of CNC Weld. In September 2021, Romanyuk provided a false statement to Estonian authorities about the jig grinder transaction in order to cover up his involvement in this scheme.

U.S. authorities, working with Latvian authorities, intercepted the jig grinder in Riga, Latvia, before it was to be shipped to Russia. Approximately $826,000 in funds involved in the purchase of the jig grinder were subsequently forfeited, and a substantial portion of the forfeited funds were transferred to Estonia to provide aid to Ukraine.

Romanyuk was arrested on June 13, 2022, in Latvia. He has been detained since his arrest.

Romanyuk pleaded guilty to international money laundering conspiracy, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. A sentencing date is not scheduled.

Ananics and Mamonovs pleaded guilty to related charges and await sentencing.

This investigation is being conducted by HSI field offices in New Haven and the Hague, Netherlands; the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement in Boston and Portland, Oregon; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The Prosecutor-General’s Office of the Republic of Latvia, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Estonia, Latvian Tax and Customs Police, Estonian Tax and Customs Board, and the Latvian State Police have assisted the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale, Konstantin Lantsman, and Stephanie Levick of the District of Connecticut, and Trial Attorney Brendan Geary of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs has provided valuable assistance.

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022, and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

This case is being prosecuted through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program and is being supported by OCDETF’s International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2). OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.