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Press Release

United States Obtains Warrant for Seizure of Airplane Owned by Russian Oil Company Valued at More Than $25 Million

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The United States today announced the unsealing of a warrant for the seizure of a Boeing 737-7JU aircraft owned by PJSC Rosneft Oil Company (Rosneft), a Russian integrated energy company headquartered in Moscow, Russia, headed by Igor Ivanovich Sechin. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York authorized the seizure, finding probable cause that the Boeing aircraft was subject to seizure based on violations of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and the recent sanctions issued against Russia.

According to court documents, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued sanctions against Russia. The sanctions impose export controls and license requirements to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. The Russia sanctions expanded prohibitions on the export, reexport or in-country transfer of, among other things, U.S.-manufactured aircraft to or within Russia without a valid license or license exception for aircraft owned or controlled, or under charter or lease, by Russia and/or Russian nationals. In this case, these sanctions bar a plane that was built or manufactured in the United States from entering Russia without a valid license. 

Specifically, since February 2022, when the export controls that bar the United States-built plane’s re-entry to Russia went into effect, the plane has left and reentered Russia at least seven times, in violation of federal law. The Boeing jet, which was manufactured in the United States, was last in the United States in March 2014, and is currently believed to be in, or traveling to or from, Russia.  

Rosneft – which is headed by Igor Ivanovich Sechin – owns the Boeing aircraft. The Boeing was flown from a foreign country to Russia in violation of the ECRA and regulations issued thereunder, including the Russia sanctions. The Boeing (pictured below) is believed to be worth approximately $25 million.

The United States today announced the unsealing of a warrant for the seizure of a Boeing 737-7JU aircraft owned by PJSC Rosneft Oil Company (Rosneft), a Russian integrated energy company headquartered in Moscow, Russia, headed by Igor Ivanovich Sechin. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York authorized the seizure, finding probable cause that the Boeing aircraft was subject to seizure based on violations of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and the recent sanctions issued against Russia.

According to court documents, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued sanctions against Russia. The sanctions impose export controls and license requirements to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. The Russia sanctions expanded prohibitions on the export, reexport or in-country transfer of, among other things, U.S.-manufactured aircraft to or within Russia without a valid license or license exception for aircraft owned or controlled, or under charter or lease, by Russia and/or Russian nationals.

The FBI and Department of Commerce are investigating the seizure matter. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided valuable assistance.

The government’s case is being investigated by the Eastern District of New York’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section and the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Navarro, Tara B. McGrath and Madeline M. O’Connor, and Trial Attorney Barbara Levy are leading the seizure matter.

The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2, 2022, and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

The burden to prove forfeitability in a forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.

Updated March 13, 2023

Topic
Export Control