National Security

US Can Seize Russian Oligarch’s Private Jets, Court Rules


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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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A U.S. federal judge issued warrants on Monday to seize two private jets, together valued at upwards of $400 million, that belong to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, according to court filings.

U.S. officials allege that Abramovich violated U.S. export controls imposed against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, according to court filings published Monday.

In an affidavit published June 6 in support of the warrants, FBI agent Alan Fowler alleged Abramovich flew two private aircraft, a Gulfstream G650ER and a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, into Russia on separate occasions in March. The Department of Commerce levied sanctions against Russia in February requiring that anyone who wants to transport U.S. aircraft or aircraft parts into Russia, from any location, obtain a license first.

“The Boeing and the Gulfstream were each U.S.- manufactured aircraft classified under ECCN 9A991 on the CCL, and therefore a BIS license was required for their reexport to Russia,” Fowler wrote, “but no licenses were applied for or issued.”

“I am satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that the property so described is subject to seizure and civil forfeiture,” wrote Sarah L. Cave, the judge who issued the warrants.

Abramovich kept the aircraft in two shell companies, purchasing the Dreamliner for $60 million in 2020 and the Boeing for $94.7 million in 2017, according to Fowler. He claimed Abramovich customized the Boeing, making it one of the most valuable private jets in existence and worth an estimated $350 million.

The warrants support the goal of Task Force KleptoKapture, a U.S. law enforcement program aimed at targeting Russian oligarchs through identifying behavior that violates U.S. sanctions. (RELATED: Roman Abramovich Supposedly Poisoned After Peace Negotiations)

DOJ officials believe restricting the oligarchs’ access to financial assets will damage Russia’s economy and influence the war in Ukraine.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war. Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland when he announced the task force.

The U.S. has urged partners around the globe to target Russian assets on their territory; Abramovich lost control of the Chelsea Football Club, a UK-based soccer team, when the UK sanctioned him in March, slicing him off from a major income source. Spain also seized a yacht owned by Rosneft CEO and former Russian deputy prime minister Igor Sechin.

Abramovitch and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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