“Russian oligarchs such as Abramovich will not be permitted to violate US export regulations without consequence,” said a Department of Commerce official. But it’s unclear if authorities know where the planes are being kept.
Tuesday 7 June 2022 03:32, UK
A US court has issued warrants to seize two luxury planes owned by Roman Abramovich under sanctions imposed due to the Ukraine war.
The planes are a $350m (£280m) Boeing 787 Dreamliner – a cutting-edge aircraft used by many of the world’s top airlines – and a $60m (£48m) Gulfstream G650 ER.
However, the chance of authorities getting control of them is uncertain.
A Department of Justice official said the jets were not in their custody and declined to say if they knew their location.
The Russian billionaire has already had to sell Chelsea football club due to UK sanctions imposed on people believed to have ties to President Putin and the Russian state.
Mr Abramovich has denied having a close link to the president and was involved to some extent in mediation between Russia and Ukraine in the early days of the war.
Authorities said the Gulfstream had flown from Istanbul to Moscow on 12 March, left the following day for Tel Aviv and travelled from Istanbul to Moscow again on 15 March.
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The Boeing flew from Dubai to Moscow on 4 March, according to the Department of Commerce.
A Manhattan judge issued the warrants on Monday because recent flights had violated US export controls.
The planes are made in America and because the flights took place after sanctions began, Mr Abramovich would have needed a licence from the Department of Commerce to use them.
No licences were requested and he could face a fine of up to $328,000 per flight, among other actions.
Abramovich’s children ‘given ownership of planes’
“Russian oligarchs such as Abramovich will not be permitted to violate US export regulations without consequence,” said commerce official John Sonderman.
In March, the department made moves to effectively ground Mr Abramovich’s Gulfstream and 99 other planes it said had recently been to Russia.
The billionaire owns both his planes through shell companies registered in Jersey, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, according to prosecutors.
The Department of Commerce said that in February he changed the ownership structure to make his children the beneficiaries of the trust that ultimately owns the aircraft.
However, it said he still effectively controlled the planes when they flew to Moscow in March.
Despite the warrants, Mr Abramovich has not been personally sanctioned in the US as he has been in the UK and European Union.
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