United States Obtains Warrant for Seizure of Two Airplanes of Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich Worth Over $400 Million
The United States of America has been authorized to seize a Boeing 787-8 aircraft and a Gulfstream G650ER aircraft owned and controlled by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, pursuant to a seizure warrant from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which found that the airplanes are subject to seizure and forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and the recent sanctions issued against Russia.
According to the seizure warrant and affidavit unsealed today:
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued various sanctions against Russia that impose export controls and license requirements to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. These Russia sanctions include expanded prohibitions on the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of U.S.-manufactured aircraft and aircraft parts and components to or within Russia without a BIS license, and eliminate the availability of any license exception for aircraft owned or controlled, or under charter or lease, by Russia or a Russian national.
The Boeing and the Gulfstream each were reexported to Russia (i.e., flown from a foreign country to Russia) in violation of the ECRA and regulations issued thereunder, including the recent Russia sanctions. The Boeing was flown to Russia on March 4, 2022 without a BIS license, and is now in the United Arab Emirates. The Gulfstream was flown to Russia on March 12 and 15, 2022 without a BIS license, and remains in Russia. The Boeing and Gulfstream are owned and controlled by Roman Abramovich, a Russia national, through a series of shell companies in Cyprus, Jersey, and the British Virgin Islands.
The Boeing (pictured below), bearing tail number P4-BDL and serial number 37306, is believed to be worth approximately $350 million.
The Gulfstream (pictured below), bearing tail number LX-RAY and serial number 6417, is believed to be worth approximately $60 million.
Task Force KleptoCapture Director Andrew C. Adams, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York, Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office, and Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod of the Department of Commerce made the announcement.
U.S. Attorney Williams praised the outstanding work of the FBI and BIS. In a charging letter that separately issued today, BIS initiated administrative proceedings against Roman Abramovich, seeking penalties of up to twice the value of the Boeing and the Gulfstream. U.S. Attorney. Williams further thanked the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and Her Majesty’s Attorney General for the Bailiwick of Jersey for their assistance in this investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua A. Naftalis, Anden Chow, Michael D. Lockard, and Kaylan E. Lasky for the Southern District of New York are investigating the case.
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 and run out 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.