The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has put one of Putin’s closest associates, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, on a wanted list.
Prigozhin is informally known as "Putin's chef" because his companies provide food services for the Kremlin.
The FBI said that the reason for putting Prigozhin on a wanted list is "a conspiracy to defraud the United States." The FBI’s announcement was published in English, Russian and Ukrainian.
The FBI has offered a reward of up to 250,000 U.S. dollars for information that could lead to the arrest of Evgeny Prigozhin .
"Yevgeniy Vicktorovich Prigozhin is wanted by the FBI for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and the United States Department of State. This occurred in Washington, D.C., from early 2014 to February 16, 2018. Prigozhin was the primary funder of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA). He allegedly oversaw and approved their political and electoral interference operations in the United States which included the purchase of American computer server space, the creation of hundreds of fictitious online personas, and the use of stolen identities of persons from the United States. These actions were allegedly taken to reach significant numbers of Americans for the purposes of interfering with the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential Election. On February 16, 2018, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia after he was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United State," the statement said.
The FBI also recalled that “on February 16, 2018, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia after he was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States”.
Along with Prigozhin, 12 more Russian citizens are wanted on similar charges of meddling in the U.S. election.
Evgeny Prigozhin himself has been under personal sanctions imposed by the United States since the end of 2016. The sanctions were imposed because Prigozhin's companies were involved in the construction of military bases near the Russian border with Ukraine. According to Washington, Prigozhin played a significant role in supporting the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 and Moscow's military intervention in eastern Ukraine.