On May 16, the State Department announced a reward offer, under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, of up to $10 million, for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Russian national Mikhail Pavlovich Matveyev for transnational organized crime.
The impacts of ransomware attacks are significant and far-reaching, with victims suffering loss and disclosure of sensitive information and disruption of critical services. Russia is a safe haven for cybercriminals, an environment in which ransomware actors are free to conduct malicious cyber operations against the United States and its partners and allies.
The US Government is taking a series of additional steps against Matveyev for his role in ransomware incidents targeting U.S. law enforcement, businesses, and critical infrastructure around the world. Government agencies assert that Matveyev has been a central figure in developing and deploying the Hive, LockBit, and Babuk ransomware variants, among others. In 2021, Babuk ransomware affiliates attacked the police department of a major American city.
Justice and Treasury Departments take additional painful steps
In conjunction with the State Department’s action, the Department of Justice unsealed two indictments against Matveyev in the District of Columbia and the District of New Jersey.
For its part, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, designated Matveyev for his role in launching cyberattacks against American law enforcement, businesses, and critical infrastructure, placing him on the list of Specially Designated Nationals.
This designation means that all property and interests in property of the “designated” individual that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to the foreign assets control office. Its regulations generally prohibit all dealings by Americans or within the United States, including transactions transiting the United States, that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
Those that engage in certain transactions with the designated individual may themselves be exposed to designation.
“The United States will not tolerate ransomware attacks against our people and our institutions,” noted Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Ransomware actors like Matveyev will be held accountable for their crimes, and we will continue to use all available authorities and tools to defend against cyber threats,” he declared.
The Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program
Since 2013, the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program at the State Department has supported law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle illicit trafficking and other transnational criminal networks to protect American lives and the country’s national security. The program gives the Secretary of State statutory authority to offer rewards of up to $25 million for information leading to the reduction of transnational crime, disruption of the financial mechanisms that enable them, and the arrest and/or conviction of members and leaders.
The program covers transnational crimes beyond drug trafficking that cause direct and significant harm to lives and communities through criminal acts such as cybercrime, human trafficking, money laundering wildlife trafficking, and trafficking in arms and other illicit goods.
The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs manages the program in close coordination with the Department of Justice and federal law enforcement agencies.