US orders seizure of two Roman Abramovich planes

Russian oligarchs continue to suffer the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The US Department of Justice on Monday ordered the seizure of two planes belonging to Roman Abramovich, saying they had been used in violation of sanctions against Moscow.

The ministry explained in legal documents that the aircraft, a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and a Gulfstream G650ER jet, flew in Russian territory after US export regulations were introduced on March 2. The two planes, worth more than $400 million, are of American origin and their owner, billionaire Roman Abramovich, flew them to Russia in March without applying for a special re-export license, according to the Ministry.

Looking for both devices

“The Department of Commerce’s controls on exports and re-exports are strong and must be adhered to. It is an important component of the American strategy to deprive Russia of the means to fuel its illegal war,” explained Andrew Adams, the director of the KleptoCapture team, which depends on the Department of Justice. The group, which includes a dozen prosecutors and investigators from several American services, is responsible for investigating violations of the sanctions adopted against Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine and for organizing the seizure of the property of the oligarchs.

The Justice Department did not say where the two planes are currently located. According to media, the Boeing could be in Dubai and the Gulfstream in Russia. “We will make decisions to carry out the seizures and we will check if (the planes) change jurisdictions,” said Andrew Adams. According to the seizure warrant, Roman Abramovich owns both devices through a series of front companies.

The Department of Commerce also issued a letter officially accusing the billionaire of knowingly violating US regulations that block the export of certain goods and technologies to Russia. Roman Abramovich faces fines that can reach double the value of “export” transactions, according to the ministry, suggesting that he could seek penalties greater than the value of the two planes.

The Boeing is, according to the ministry, “one of the most expensive private aircraft in the world, worth approximately $350 million”. The Gulfstream was purchased in March 2020 for around $60 million by a company identified as belonging to Roman Abramovich, the ministry added. The former owner of the Chelsea football club has not been placed on the list of Russian personalities and entities sanctioned by the United States. It is however on the black list of the European Union.

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