US authorities moved Monday to seize two luxury jets, a $60 million Gulfstream and a $350 million plane believed to be one of the world’s most expensive private jets, after linking both to the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
A federal magistrate judge signed an order authorizing the seizure of the Gulfstream and a Boeing plane that authorities say was worth less than $100 million before lavish customization.
The action comes just days after the United States announced new sanctions and punishments against Russian oligarchs and elites, Kremlin officials, businessmen linked to President Vladimir Putin and their yachts, planes and companies that manage them.
President Joe Biden promised after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February that he would go after the “ill-gotten gains” of Russian elites.
A representative for Abramovich did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Federal prosecutor Damian Williams said in a statement Monday that his office was using all available legal tools to respond to Russia’s “illegal war in Ukraine.”
“Our international partners, nations dedicated to the rule of law, outnumber those jurisdictions where these aircraft can safely hide, and our investigation of illegal exports in violation of US law will continue unabated,” he said.
Matthew S. Axelrod, assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement, said the Commerce Department had made recent changes to keep its enforcement actions public regarding unprecedented export controls stemming from the invasion of Ukraine.
He said the action “put the world on notice of our commitment to aggressively and transparently enforce those controls.
Andrew Adams, a prosecutor who heads the unit that goes after the assets of Russian oligarchs, said the public nature of Monday’s action is meant to remind “members of the aviation, insurance and finance industries that these planes constitute property.” Contaminated under active investigation by the United States. State.”
Justice Department officials say they have received strong support from companies and organizations and from countries that in the past had been seen as safe havens for parking illegal assets.
Abramovich, who recently sold his stake in Chelsea, a Premier League soccer club in London, is among the wealthiest Russians whose assets are being watched for sanctions violations after the Ukraine invasion.
Explaining the move to seize the planes, an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft and the Gulfstream G650ER aircraft are subject to seizure because they moved between March 4 and 15 without obtaining licenses in violation. of the sanctions imposed on Russia.
According to the affidavit, Abramovich controlled Gulfstream through a series of shell companies. The plane, he said, is believed to have been in Moscow since March 15.
Meanwhile, the Boeing is believed to be in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, following a March 4 round-trip flight from Dubai to Moscow, according to the affidavit.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.