US blacklists Pakistani nationals, firms for helping Russia evade sanctions

Lalit K Jha
·2-min read

Washington, Apr 16 (PTI) The United States has slapped sanctions on six Pakistani nationals and four of their companies for helping Russian entities to evade sanctions by using fraudulent documents after Moscow attempted to influence the 2020 US presidential election.

In a statement the US Department of Treasury said that the companies are Second Eye Solution (SES), also known as Forwarderz, along with its three other frontals Fresh Air Farm House, Like Wise, and MK.

The Pakistani nationals slapped with sanctions are Mohsin Raza, Mujtaba Raza, Syed Hasnain, Muhammad Hayat, Syed Raza and Shahzad Ahmed, the statement said as it announced a series of sanctions against entities and individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 US presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government.

“Treasury will target Russian leaders, officials, intelligence services, and their proxies that attempt to interfere in the US electoral process or subvert US democracy,” said Treasury Secretary Janet L Yellen.

She said this is the start of a new US campaign against Russian malign behaviour.

The Treasury alleged that Pakistan-based Second Eye Solution (SES), also known as Forwarderz, is an organisation that specialises in creating and selling fraudulent identities and has assisted the banned Russian Internet Research Agency or IRA, the troll farm, in concealing its identity to evade sanctions.

“Since at least 2012, SES engaged in a scheme to provide digital photographs of fake documents including passports, driver’s licenses, bank statements, utility bills, and national identity documents. SES markets these fake documents for use to verify online accounts including money service business accounts and social media website accounts,” the Treasury alleged.

In 2017, the IRA purchased 15 fraudulent US driver licenses images from SES.

The purchased licenses were used as supporting documents for online social media accounts opened by the IRA, the Treasury alleged.

The fraudulent documents produced by SES are likely used at many online services to evade sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) screening protocols beyond what the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has been able to identify, it alleged.

“SES advertises that their fraudulent documents may be used on social media, freelancing job postings, and commerce platforms,” it said.

In addition, the Treasury said it is also identifying digital currency addresses used by SES to fulfill customer orders in order to help assist financial institutions, and their third-party identity verification services, in identifying customers on their platforms who have purchased fraudulent identity documents. Known SES digital currency addresses have received over USD2.5 million in digital currencies over more than 26,900 transactions from 2013 to March 2021, it said. PTI LKJ RUP RUP RUP