Russian billionaire charged with violating US sanctions

(NEW YORK) — Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska was charged Thursday with violating U.S. sanctions, according to an indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York as part of the United States’ efforts to crack down on Russian oligarchs.

Deripaska, an aluminum magnate, was among two dozen Russians sanctioned in 2018 by the U.S. Treasury Department as punishment for what Treasury officials called “the Russian government’s ongoing and increasingly malign activities in the world.”

The FBI searched Deripaska’s homes in New York and Washington, D.C., last year.

Deripaska has also been investigated in the past for money laundering, though no charges were ever brought. He was mentioned in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which said that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had offered Deripaska internal polling and campaign briefings, but made no direct assertion that Deripaska had interfered in the election.

The new indictment charges Deripaska with violating sanctions by allegedly paying two women, Olga Shriki and Natalia Mikhaylovna Bardakova, to provide him personal services in the United States.

“Despite his cozy ties with the Kremlin and his vast wealth acquired through ties to a corrupt regime, Deripaska did all he could to lead a life in a stable, free, democratic society — even if that meant lying and evading U.S. sanctions,” said Andrew Adams, director of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force. “The hypocrisy in seeking comfort and citizenship in the United States, while enjoying the fruits of a ruthless, anti-democratic regime, is striking.”

Shriki facilitated the $3 million sale of a California music studio for Deripaska, and both women helped Deripaska’s girlfriend, Ekaterina Voronina, travel from Russia to the United States so she could give birth to Deripaska’s child, according to the indictment.

Voronina has also been criminally charged with making false statements to agents of the Department of Homeland Security at the time she was attempting to enter the country.

“Additionally, between, in, or about 2018 and in or about 2020, Deripaska routinely had Shriki and Bardakova purchase various products in the United States for Deripaska’s personal use and as gifts for others on his behalf,” the indictment said.

The indictment also accuses Shriki of destroying evidence during the investigation and accuses Bardakova of making false statements to U.S. government officers.

Shriki was arrested Thursday in New Jersey and was expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan.

Deripaska, Bardakova and Voronina were all believed to be in Russia.

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