GLOBAL attempts to seize the assets of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich – sanctioned in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – have uncovered more of the oligarch’s business links to Jersey.
A US warrant has been granted for the seizure of two private planes – with a combined value of more than $400 million – owned by Mr Abramovich which had been flown to Russia in breach of international sanctions.
According to the seizure warrant, published by the US Department of Justice, the planes – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and a Gulfstream G650ER – are ‘owned and/or controlled by Roman Abramovich, through a series of shell companies in Cyprus, Jersey and the British Virgin Islands.’
It added: ‘The Boeing and the Gulfstream each were re-exported to Russia [flown from a foreign country to Russia] in violation of the Export Control Reform Act and regulations issued thereunder, including the recent Russia sanctions. The Boeing was flown to Russia on 4 March 2022 without a Bureau of Industry and Security license and without a license exception, and is now in the United Arab Emirates. The Gulfstream was flown to Russia on 12 and 15 March 2022 without a BIS license and without a license exception, and remains in Russia.’
Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the southern district of New York, said: ‘Today’s affidavit and warrant demonstrate the southern district’s commitment to bring to bear every legal tool available for enforcement of sanctions and export controls imposed in response to Russia’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 US law will continue unabated.’
Mr Williams thanked ‘Her Majesty’s Attorney General for the Bailiwick of Jersey for their assistance in this investigation’.
The seizure order is the latest in a string of measures taken against the sanctioned oligarch. In April, the Royal Court imposed a formal freezing order in relation to $7 billion of assets which are suspected to be connected to the former Chelsea FC owner and are either located in Jersey or held by Jersey businesses.
Mr Abramovich, who is estimated to be worth £14 billion, was sanctioned by the UK and Jersey on 10 March, as part of the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this year, the JEP revealed that a Jersey-registered company based at the offices of Zedra Trust at 50 Colomberie loaned £1.5 billion to one of Mr Abramovich’s companies.
And in 2018 this newspaper broke the news that the Russian businessman was given housing qualifications to live here, although he did not eventually relocate to the Island.