Ex-Fox News producer charged in New York federal court with aiding sanctioned Russian oligarch

A founding Fox News producer has been indicted in Manhattan federal court for violating U.S. sanctions on Russia when he helped an oligarch launch a propaganda ring, the Justice Department has announced.

John Hanick, a 71-year-old US citizen, was quietly arrested in London early last month, federal authorities revealed with the unsealing of an indictment against him on Thursday March 3.

Justice Ministry officials say they are seeking Hanick’s extradition for helping Konstantin Malofeyev set up Tsargrad TV after the oligarch was sanctioned for his role in funding pro-Moscow separatists fighting in the east of Ukraine.

Hanick also attempted to create similar networks in Greece and Bulgaria, they said.

The indictment is part of the first-ever criminal prosecution by the United States for violations of sanctions aimed at protecting Ukraine’s democracy from Russian aggression, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damien Williams, said Thursday.

Hanick worked at Fox News for 15 years, from its inception in 1996 until August 2011. He then moved to Moscow in 2013 to work for Malofeyev, the Justice Department said.

Malofeyev was placed under US and EU sanctions a year later, but Hanick continued to work for him, even transferring some of the payments he received to a bank account in New York, according to the indictment made public. Thursday.

Hanick left the network in 2017, then lied about his involvement with Malofeyev during an FBI interview in February 2021, he says.

Thursday’s announcement comes a day after the Justice Department launched the KleptoCapture task force, designed to find and freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs who helped fund President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Malofeyev has been “one of the main sources of funding for the promotion of Russian-aligned separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” Williams said.

Although the sanctions barred US citizens from working or doing business with Malofeyev, Hanick worked directly with him on several television projects over several years, the US attorney said.

“Hanick consciously chose to help Malofeyev spread his destabilizing messages by establishing or attempting to establish television networks in Russia, Bulgaria and Greece,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Division of National Security Department of Justice.

Hanick emailed Malofeyev in January 2015 stating that a draft policy for the Russian TV network was intended to “implement your vision and provide you with information so you can make decisions…” , says the indictment handed down in Manhattan.

“You are the founder and chief architect of the project,” Hanick told Maofeyev. “As board members, we have a responsibility to instruct staff to implement your instructions.”

The network aired in Russia around April 2015, the Justice Ministry said. Hanick reported to Malofeyev and was listed directly below him on organizational charts, federal authorities said.

He was variously described from 2015 to 2017 as “chairman of the board”, “general producer”, “chairman of the human resources committee” and “general counsel” for the Russian television network, they said.

Hanick also worked for Malofeyev on a project to establish and run a Greek television network and efforts to acquire a Bulgarian television network, according to the indictment.

When questioned by the FBI, Hanick lied about his work for Malofeyev, he claims. The bureau, in turn, charged him with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, leading to the indictment that was made public on Thursday.

Hanick’s lawsuit “shows this office’s commitment to enforcing laws designed to cripple those who would use their wealth to undermine fundamental democratic processes,” Williams said.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thane Rehn and Jessica Greenwood are handling the case for the government.

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