U.S. seeks to seize 2 luxury jets linked to Russian oligarch
NEW YORK U.S. authorities moved Monday in order to seize two luxury aircrafts — a $60million Gulfstream and a $350million private plane believed to be among the most expensive — after linking them both to Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch. A federal magistrate judge signed an order authorizing the seizure the Gulfstream and a Boeing plane that authorities claimed was worth less $100million before lavish customization. The action comes just days after the United States announced new sanctions against Russian oligarchs, elites, Kremlin officials and businessmen connected to President Vladimir Putin, as well as their yachts, aircraft, and firms that manage them.
President Joe Biden promised after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine to pursue Russian elites’ “ill-gotten gains.”
A representative for Abramovich did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a release Monday that his office was using every legal tool available to respond to “Russian’s illegal war in Ukraine.”
“Our international partners — nations devoted to the rule of law — far outnumber those jurisdictions where these aircraft can safely hide, and our investigation of illegal exports in violation of U.S. law will continue unabated,” he said.
Matthew S. Axelrod was the assistant secretary of commerce for international enforcement. He stated that the Commerce Department has made recent changes to make its enforcement actions regarding unprecedented export controls resulting from the invasion in Ukraine public.
He said the action “provides notice to the world of our commitment to enforce those controls aggressively in a transparent way.”
Andrew Adams, a prosecutor who heads the unit pursuing the assets of Russian oligarchs, said the public nature of Monday’s action is meant to remind “members of the aviation, insurance, and financial industries that these aircraft constitute tainted property under active investigation by the United States.”
Justice Department officials say they have received strong support from companies and organizations and from countries that in the past had been viewed as safe havens for parking illegal assets.
Abramovich is one of the richest Russians whose assets are being monitored for violations of sanctions following the invasion by Ukraine.
An FBI agent explained that the planes were taken by the FBI because they were moved between March 4th and March 15, without licenses. This was in violation of the sanctions against Russia.
According to the affidavit Abramovich was the owner of the Gulfstream through a number of shell companies. It stated that the plane was believed to have been in Moscow since March 15..
The affidavit stated that the Boeing is currently in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was there after a roundtrip March 4 flight between Dubai and Moscow.
Associated Press Writer Fatima Hussein in Washington contributed to this report.
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