US authorities say that Russian citizen Sergey Cherkasov, who is currently in custody in Brazil, acted in the interests of Russian intelligence and was involved in crimes in the United States relating to visa and bank fraud, according to a statement released by US Department of Justice.
According to the document, “Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 37, a national of the Russian Federation who operated as an ‘Illegal’ agent for a Russian Intelligence Service (“RIS”) under the Brazilian alias of Victor Muller Ferreira, was charged today for acting as an agent of a foreign power, visa fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and other charges stemming from his illegal activities in the United States.”
The published indictment said Cherkasov came to Brazil in 2010 with a Russian passport. At that time, he allegedly “started acting as an Illegal agent in 2012 in Brazil using the Ferreira name.” In 2017, Cherkasov, according to US authorities, obtained a US student visa. Posing as Ferreira, he allegedly attended an American university in the D.C. metropolitan area. The name of the university was not specified.
The Justice Department said in a statement that Cherkasov opened a US bank account and obtained a driver’s license in Virginia. He allegedly “further made connections to persons of interest in the United States and maintained communications with his RIS handlers.” He also allegedly sent “information about US foreign policy” to Russian intelligence in 2021 and 2022.
According to the version cited, Cherkasov tried to obtain employment at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2022, but was barred from entering the Netherlands. In April 2022, the Russian citizen was arrested in Brazil “on fraud charges stemming from his use of the false Ferreira identity.” In July 2022, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for fraud.
Possible extradition to Russia
According to the document, the Brazilian authorities informed the Russian government about the detention of Cherkasov, and Russian diplomats confirmed the identity of their compatriot. Later, Brazilian authorities regularly allowed representatives of the Russian Federation to meet with Cherkasov, who was in custody.
According to the US version, in September 2022, the Brazilian authorities confirmed that Russia had filed documents to extradite Cherkasov. They allegedly stated that he was accused in his home country of involvement in drug trafficking.
The US pointed out that this extradition request to the Russian Federation was based on knowingly false information. The US side believed that the purpose of such actions was only to bring Cherkasov home.
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