US Attorney Announces Arrest of Russian Oligarch For Defying Sanctions

US Attorney Announces Arrest of Russian Oligarch For Defying Sanctions 2

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York has released a statement regarding billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska with \”cosy ties\” to the Kremlin for breaching US sanctions in a move that the US Attorney\’s office says indicates the Office\’s continued enforcement of sanctions against Russians and supporting Ukraine\’s struggle against Russian belligerence.

Deripaska is an aluminum magnate and 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 text of the press release is below –

New Jersey Resident Olga Shriki Arrested for Her Role in Facilitating Illicit Travel by Deripaska’s Girlfriend and in Real Estate Transactions

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging OLEG VLADIMIROVICH DERIPASKA, a/k/a “Oleg Mukhamedshin,” and NATALIA MIKHAYLOVNA BARDAKOVA, a/k/a “Natalya Mikhaylovna Bardakova,” citizens of the Russian Federation (“Russia”), and OLGA SHRIKI, a New Jersey resident and naturalized U.S. Citizen, with conspiring to violate United States sanctions imposed on DERIPASKA and one of DERIPASKA’s corporate entities, “Basic Element.”  SHRIKI is further charged with obstruction of justice based on her deletion of electronic records relating to her participation in DERIPASKA’s sanctions evasion scheme following receipt of a Grand Jury subpoena requiring the production of those records. 

BARDAKOVA and is charged in one count with making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Additionally, EKATERINA OLEGOVNA VORONINA, a/k/a “Ekaterina Lobanova,” is also charged with making false statements to agents of the Department of Homeland Security at the time of VORONINA’s attempted entry into the United States for the purpose of giving birth to DERIPASKA’s child.  SHRIKI was arrested this morning.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The indictment unsealed today signals the United States’ ongoing support for the people of Ukraine in the face of continued Russian belligerence.  The enforcement of sanctions is a vital tool wielded by this Office and our law enforcement partners as we seek to deter Russian aggression, and today’s indictment should be taken as a warning that, try as they might, individuals violating these sanctions will be held accountable.” 

Andrew C. Adams, Director of Task Force KleptoCapture said: “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.  The hypocrisy in seeking comfort and citizenship in the United States, while enjoying the fruits of a ruthless, anti-democratic regime, is striking.  That Deripaska practiced that hypocrisy through lies and criminal sanctions evasion has made him a fugitive from the country he so desperately wished to exploit.”

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: “Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, was sanctioned in April 2018 as part of the U.S. response to the Russian Government’s engagement in worldwide malign activity and its annexation of Crimea, Ukraine.  Since that time, Deripaska has continued to circumvent those sanctions through an international network of enablers and facilitators.  We will not idly standby while Russian oligarchs brazenly subvert our laws and simultaneously seek benefit from U.S. goods and services for themselves and their families. Today’s actions demonstrate the FBI’s commitment to protecting U.S. national interests through the identification and disruption of Kremlin-linked oligarchs’ criminal networks.”

            According to the allegations contained in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:[1]

            DERIPASKA, the owner and controller of Basic Element Limited (“Basic Element”), a private investment and management company for DERIPASKA’s various business interests, was subjected to economic sanctions on April 6, 2018.  On that day, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated DERIPASKA as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”) in connection with its finding that the actions of the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States (the “OFAC Sanctions”).  In so designating DERIPASKA, OFAC explained that DERIPASKA was sanctioned for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation, as well as for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy.

            Following his designation by OFAC, DERIPASKA conspired with others to evade and to violate those sanctions in various ways and over the course of several years.  DERIPASKA, through the corporate entity “Gracetown Inc.,” illegally utilized the U.S. financial system to maintain and retain three luxury properties in the United States (the “U.S. Properties”) and further employed OLGA SHRIKI and NATALIA MIKHAYLOVNA BARDAKOVA to utilize U.S. financial institutions to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of services for his benefit in the United States.  For example, in or about 2019, SHRIKI facilitated for DERIPASKA’s benefit the sale of a music studio in California for over $3 million. DERIPASKA had owned the studio through a series of corporate shell companies that obscured his actual ownership.  Following the sale of the studio, SHRIKI attempted to expatriate over $3 million in proceeds through one such shell company, “Ocean Studios California LLC,” to a Russia-based account belonging to another DERIPASKA company.

            BARDAKOVA – largely based in Russia – directed SHRIKI to engage in particular illegal transactions on DERIPASKA’s behalf.  These instructions included directing SHRIKI to obtain U.S. goods and technology for DERIPASKA.  Moreover, between in or about May 2018 and in or about 2020, BARDAKOVA instructed SHRIKI to purchase and send flower and gift deliveries on behalf of DERIPASKA to DERIPASKA’s social contacts in the United States and Canada.  The deliveries included, among others, Easter gift deliveries to a U.S. television host, two flower deliveries to a then-former Canadian Parliament member, and two flower deliveries in 2020 to VORONINA while she was in the United States in 2020 to give birth to DERIPASKA’s child.           

           Then, in or about 2020, SHRIKI and BARDAKOVA helped DERIPASKA’s girlfriend, VORONINA, travel from Russia to the United States so she could give birth to DERIPASKA’s and VORONINA’s child in the United States.  Despite DERIPASKA’s ongoing support for the Russian regime, he funded hundreds of thousands of dollars of transactions so that his child could take advantage of the U.S. healthcare system and U.S. birthright.  SHRIKI orchestrated the payment of approximately $300,000 worth of U.S. medical care, housing, childcare, and other logistics to aid VORONINA and DERIPASKA’s efforts to help VORONINA give birth in the United States, which resulted in the child receiving U.S. citizenship.  DERIPASKA counseled VORONINA on obtaining a visa to travel to the United States, including by telling her to be “careful” ahead of an interview by U.S. immigration authorities.  VORONINA thereafter applied for and obtained a U.S. visa for a purported ten-day tourism visit without disclosing her intent to travel and stay in the United States for approximately six months to give birth to DERIPASKA’s child.  Following the birth, SHRIKI, BARDAKOVA, and VORONINA conspired to conceal the name of the child’s true father, DERIPASKA, going so far as to change, slightly, the spelling of the child’s last name.

           Later, in or about 2022, at DERIPASKA’s further behest and for his further benefit, SHRIKI and BARDAKOVA attempted to facilitate VORONINA’s return to the United States to give birth to DERIPASKA’s and VORONINA’s second child.  This second attempt included BARDAKOVA and VORONINA’s attempt to use false statements to conceal DERIPASKA’s funding and secure VORONINA’s entry into the United States – an attempt that was thwarted, and VORONINA was denied entry and returned immediately to Istanbul, through which she had flown from Russia to the United States. 

*                *                *

DERIPASKA, 52, and BARDAKOVA, 45, of Russia, and SHRIKI, 42, of New Jersey, are charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. SHRIKI is further charged in one count of destruction of records, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  BARDAKOVA and VORONINA, 33, of Russia, are each further charged in one count of making false statements to federal agents, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The Indictment also provides notice of the United States’ intention to forfeit from DERIPASKA the proceeds of his offense, including the U.S. Properties and the proceeds from the sale of the music studio. 

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and its New York Field Office, Counterintelligence Division and thanked the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section for their assistance.

On March 2, 2022, the Attorney General announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.  The task force will leverage all the Department’s tools and authorities against efforts to evade or undermine the economic actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

            The case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anden Chow and Vladislav Vainberg are in charge of the case.

The charges in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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