US authorities obtain warrant to seize Boeing, Gulfstream jets tied to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich

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U.S. authorities have obtained a warrant authorizing the seizure of a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet and Gulfstream G650ER jet tied to Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch believed to be a close associate of Vladimir Putin. 

Ambramovich is accused of violating sweeping export controls from the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security after the U.S.-manufactured planes flew into Russia without a required export license. 

Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women’s Champions League final soccer match against FC Barcelona in Gothenburg, Sweden, May 16, 2021.  (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File / AP Newsroom)

The export controls were implemented as part of U.S. sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

NEW US SANCTIONS TARGET RUSSIA-LINKED YACHTS AND JETS, PUTIN'S MONEY MANAGER

According to an affidavit filed in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, the Boeing jet flew from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Moscow, Russia, on or about March 4, 2022, in violation of the export controls. The same day, the plane returned to Dubai, where it currently remains. 

In December 2017, Boeing sold the plane to British Virgin Islands-based company Wenham Overseas Limited for approximately $93.65 million, the affidavit states. The plane was flown to Europe in 2018 to be customized into what is reported to be one of the one of the world’s most expensive private airplanes, worth approximately $350 million.

According to an affidavit filed in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, the Boeing jet flew from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Moscow, Russia on or about March 4, 2022. (U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York)

Meanwhile, the Gulfstream jet flew from Istanbul, Turkey, to Moscow, Russia, on or about March 12, 2022. After traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel, and back to Istanbul, the plane flew to Moscow again on or about March 15, 2022, where it has remained since then. 

According to the affidavit, the Gulfstream jet flew from Istanbul, Turkey to Moscow, Russia on or about March 12, 2022. After traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel and back to Istanbul, the plane flew to Moscow again on or about March 15, 2022, where it has (U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York)

On March 16, the Gulfstream was sold to Clear Skies Flights Limited ("Clear Skies") for approximately $60 million.

According to the affidavit, Clear Skies' representatives were affiliated with one of Abramovich’s investment vehicles, MHC Services Limited, and had an address associated with the Chelsea Football Club, a professional English soccer team that Abramovich previously owned and recently sold for $3.2 billion. 

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A chart in the affidavit detailing the ownership of the planes links Wenham and Clear Skies to a Jersey-based shell company called Wotton Overseas Holdings. The document states that Wotton's shares are owned by Finservus Limited, a company registered in Cyprus as nominee of the Europa Settlement Trust.

Abramovich is listed as the Europa Settlement Trust's primary beneficiary. In February, he reorganized his assets and made his children beneficiaries of the Europa Settlement Trust, according to the affidavit.

A chart in the affidavit detailing the ownership of the planes links Wenham and Clear Skies to a Jersey-based shell company called Wotton Overseas Holdings. Wotton’s shares are owned by a company registered in Cyprus as the Europa Settlement Trust, w (U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York)

In addition to the warrant, the Commerce Department is seeking administrative sanctions against Abramovich, including a fine of up to $328,121 and the denial of further export privileges. Abramovich, who has denied having close ties to Putin, has also been sanctioned by the European Union and Britain.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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