Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell appears to have become the latest high-profile figure targeted by Russian pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as Vovan and Lexus.
A video call involving Powell was shared on Russian television, showing the duo who have previously pranked Prince Harry, Angela Merkel, and other prominent personalities.
The Federal Reserve confirmed that Powell spoke to someone in January whom he believed to be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The matter has since been referred to law enforcement. A spokesperson stated that the conversation was friendly and no sensitive or confidential information was discussed.
Vovan and Lexus have a history of pranking well-known figures, including Elton John, Polish President Andrzej Duda, European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Federal Reserve mentioned that the video featuring Powell seemed to have been edited and could not verify its accuracy.
In one clip, Powell praised Russia’s central bank chief Elvira Nabiullina for her management of the Russian economy amid Western sanctions, as reported by the BBC Monitoring service. In another video, Powell discussed a sharp slowdown in US growth following the bank’s efforts to control price increases.
The revelation of the call has generated significant attention on social media within the business world, where Powell’s commentary frequently influences financial markets.
Economist Mohamed A El-Erian and global markets analyst Jesse Cohen were among those who shared their thoughts on the incident, describing it as an embarrassing moment for the Federal Reserve.