Five Russians charged millions for hacking and insider trading

A former Russian military intelligence officer is charged for carrying out a multi-year insider trading scheme by hacking into two U.S. computer systems, obtaining nonpublic corporate earnings information, and then passing it along to four accomplices, including a businessman Vladislav Klyushin.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced its charges against five Russian citizens in a press release on Monday: a state-linked businessman Vladislav Klyushin, a former military intelligence officer Ivan Yermakov, an IT company’s director Nikolai Rumiantcev, a marketing manager Mikhail Irzak, and Igor Sladkov, linked to media and IT industries.

According to the court case, over the period of at least two years (2018-2020), Yermakov has been hacking into two U.S.-based filing agent companies in order to get access to corporate earnings announcements. He then forwarded that information to four other defendants to trade securities, who have jointly made at least $82.5 million in profit. A portion of that profit was shared with Yermakov. The money was then passed through Klyushin’s IT company, where Rumiantcev and Yermakov act as directors.

“With this action, the SEC, using its powerful analytical tools, has exposed a highly sophisticated and deceptive scheme to steal and monetize non-public corporate information,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, the press release states.

Yermakov was already charged back in 2018 for his role in influencing the outcome of the 2016 US elections among 12 other Russian nationals. Later the same year, he faced charges for another cybercrime, now related to international anti-doping agencies.

On Saturday, Vladislav Klyushin was extradited to the United States from Switzerland - his original skiing holiday destination. Klyushin owns the IT company, M13, which provides cybersecurity services and media monitoring. According to RFE/RL, the company’s website states that they provide services to the Russian presidential administration, as well.

According to his legal team, it was Klyushin’s contacts with the government and access to security information that truly motivated extradition. Similarly, they suggested that Yermakov’s ties with the 2016 election scandal attracted attention to Klyushin, as the former military intelligence officer is employed at M13.

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