Politics

DOJ moves to seize two planes worth more than $400 million from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich

A federal judge in New York on Monday signed a warrant authorizing the Department of Justice to seize two jets owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, which are valued at more than $400 million.

The jets tied to Abramovich, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, are a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, and a Gulfstream G650ER.

Prosecutors said both planes were flown in March to Russia, in violation of U.S. export restrictions imposed on the heels of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Those restrictions ban the export, reexport or in-country transfer of U.S.-made aircraft and aircraft parts and components to or within Russia without a BIS license.

The Boeing, which is estimated to be worth over $350 million, is currently in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The Gulfstream is in Russia, according to court records.

According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent, Abramovich “owned and/or controlled the Gulfstream and the Boeing through a series of shell companies.”

A chart detailing the ownership of planes lists Abramovich as the beneficiary of an entity in Cyprus named “The Europa Settlement Trust,” which in turn had ownership and control of an entity called Wotten Overseas Holdings Ltd. on the island country of Jersey.

Wotton, in turn, had ownership of a Jersey-based shell company called Clear Skies Flights Ltd., which owned the Gulfstream, the affidavit says. Wotton also owns another shell company, Wenham Overseas Ltd., which is based in the British Virgin Islands, and which owns the Boeing jet.

In April, authorities in Jersey froze assets valued at more than $7 billion that are suspected of being connected to Abramovich. Jersey, part of the Channel Islands located off the coast of Normandy, France, is a self-governing country whose head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

A week after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Abramovich said he would sell the renowned London professional soccer club Chelsea, which he had owned for nearly two decades, and use proceeds to “benefit all victims of the war in Ukraine.”

The British government in May approved Chelsea’s sale to Todd Boehly, a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team, for more than $3 billion. It is reportedly the highest price ever paid for a sports team.

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CNBC

Leave a Reply