There’s no shortage of stories out there about Russian oligarchs with business ties to their homeland being sanctioned as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. One of those oligarchs is Roman Abramovich, who according to a report from the New York Times is in the sights of US officials who’ve made legal moves toward seizing two private jets allegedly owned by the billionaire.
Abramovich is alleged to have violated export regulations put in place in the wake of the war, and now a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a Gulfstream jet reportedly worth a combined $400 million could be on the hook.
The US Bureau of Industry and Security alleges that Abramovich had the planes flown from the US to other countries shortly after the invasion of Ukraine without securing the proper licenses to do so, in violation of US regulations. The Dreamliner was flown to somewhere in Russia, according to legal filings, while the Gulfstream was sent to the United Arab Emirates. And the ownership of both aircraft were traced by the FBI through a complicated network of various shell companies up to Abramovich himself.
A judge has reportedly approved the FBI’s request to seize the jets, although that process would obviously be a complicated and difficult one, considering that the planes are not even located within the United States.
But Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director of the FBI, seems determined to make it happen anyway. In a press statement, he spoke strongly about the need to hold figures like Abramovich to account:
“These wealthy Russian oligarchs have helped foster an environment that enabled Russia to pursue its deadly war in Ukraine. The seizure of their valuable possessions, including these two aircraft, is just one way the U.S government holds accountable those who break U.S. laws and support Russia in its attempt to conquer a sovereign nation. Our work has only just begun and we won’t back away.”
Abramovich has seen several consequences as a result of his Russian ties of late, including being forced to sell off Chelsea FC and seeing his assets in the European Union and UK frozen. He’s also facing a fine of more than $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce over his unlicensed transfer of the two planes, although such a fine doesn’t mean much to even a beleaguered billionaire.