An ex-Fox News director helped launch a Russian TV network for an oligarch sanctioned for enabling Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea—and lied about that relationship to the FBI this year, federal prosecutors claimed on Thursday.
The producer, Jack Hanick, boasted on his LinkedIn profile about his director positions on two major TV networks then under the control of a late Fox News bigwig. When working for CNBC between 1995 and 1996, Hanick said he directed “Straight Forward with Roger Ailes,” who was then that network’s president, according to his profile. Hanick got his Fox News gig the same year Ailes became that network’s CEO in 1996.
A Fox spokesperson says that Hanick was a weekend daytime director before his departure in 2011. A CNBC spokesperson said the network has “no record” of him being employed there. His LinkedIn page has a notable gap between Hanick’s activities between his employment that year and 2018.
“Closely Tied to Russian Aggression in Ukraine”
Federal prosecutors claim that’s because Hanick spent the interim helping out Konstantin Malofeyev, a man nicknamed Vladimir Putin’s “Soros.” Also known as Malofeev, the oligarch was sanctioned in 2014—and reportedly worked with Hanick to create a network called Tsargrad TV.
The Treasury Department said that Malofeyev bankrolled Russia promoting separatism in Crimea and generally engaged in policies that “threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
The indictment falls two days after President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to announce a Department of Justice task force to pursue Russian oligarchs in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams pointed to that history in a statement about Hanick’s indictment.
“Konstantin Malofeyev is closely tied to Russian aggression in Ukraine, having been determined by OFAC to have been one of the main sources of financing for the promotion of Russia-aligned separatist groups operating in the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” Williams said. “The United States sanctions on Malofeyev prohibit United States citizens from working for or doing business with Malofeyev but as alleged, Hanick violated those sanctions by working directly for Malofeyev on multiple television projects over the course of several years.”
The first such project named in the indictment is a Russian TV network, which is unnamed in the indictment but reportedly Tsargrad TV. Prosecutors say that they learned details about the origins of this project through a “judicially authorized search” of an “unpublished ‘memoir'” they found on Hanick’s email account.
“There is 0 Money on Our Account”
According to that “unpublished ‘memoir,'” prosecutors say: “Hanick ostensibly traveled to Russia at this time to speak at a conference, but was informed by an associate of Malofeyev that ‘the real purpose of the trip’ was to ‘introduce [Hanick] to investors’ in a planned television news network in Russia. Between February 2013 and June 2013, Hanick made four further trips to Russia. During these trips, he met with Malofeyev and associates of Malofeyev to discuss Malofeyev’s Russian cable television news plan to create a new network.”
After the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Assets Control (OFAC) designated Malofeyev, Hanick continued to report directly to the oligarch, prosecutors say.
“In or about January draft of a ‘[Russian TV Network] Board News Policy,'” the indictment states. “Hanick wrote that the policy was meant ‘to implement your vision and to provide you with information for you to make decisions … You are the founder and chief architect of the project. We, as board members have the responsibility to direct or about the staff to implement your instructions.’ Later in January 2015, Hanick sent an email to Malofeyev regarding the ‘Funding of [the Russian TV Network],’ in which Hanick noted that ‘there is 0 money on our account’ and ‘You said when we had а problem to contact you directly.”
Prosecutors say that Hanick also worked for Malofeyev on a Greek TV network and a Bulgarian one.
According to the indictment, Hanick lied to the FBI about his work with the oligarch on Feb. 2, 2021, in the early days of the Biden administration.
“During he had learned that the interview, Hanick acknowledged that Malofeyev was subject to United States sanctions within several months of when they were announced in December 2014, and that he knew that United States persons were not permitted to do business with persons who were sanctioned,” the indictment states. “Hanick also falsely stated, in no involvement in substance and in part, that Malofeyev had Hanick’s travel to Bulgaria in connection with the Bulgarian TV Network deal, and that Hanick did not know that Malofeyev had any connection to the Bulgarian TV Network until reading about it afterward in the press.”
The indictment quotes several messages from Hanick from 2015, allegedly showing his awareness.
Hanick was “provisionally arrested” in London last month on Feb. 3 in London, awaiting his extradition. The charges were unsealed today, and the case was designated to Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan.
Update—March 4 at 6:49 p.m. Eastern Time: This article has been updated to include comment from a CNBC representive, who disputes the claim on Hanick’s LinkedIn page that he worked there.
Read the indictment below:
(Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)
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