A U.K. national was arrested today for conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian Oligarch Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska and wire fraud in connection with funding U.S. properties purchased by Deripaska and efforts to expatriate Deripaska’s artwork in the United States through misrepresentations. The U.S. government will seek his extradition to the United States. Deripaska was previously charged with U.S. sanctions violations in an indictment unsealed on Sept. 29.
In 2014, the President issued Executive Order 13660, which declared a national emergency with respect to the situation in Ukraine. To address this national emergency, the President blocked all property of individuals determined by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to be responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threatened the security, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine, or who materially assist, sponsor or provide support for individuals or entities engaging in such activities. Executive Order 13660 and regulations issued pursuant to it prohibit making or receiving any funds, goods or services by, to, from or for the benefit of any person designated by the U.S. Treasury.
On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Deripaska as a Specially Designated National (SDN), in connection with its finding that the actions of the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to Ukraine constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy (the OFAC Sanctions). According to the U.S. Treasury, Deripaska was sanctioned for having acted or purported to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation, and for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy.
According to court documents, Graham Bonham-Carter, 62, of the United Kingdom, worked for entities controlled by Deripaska from July 2003 through the present. Among other things, Bonham-Carter managed Deripaska’s residential properties located in the United Kingdom and Europe, including a house in Belgravia Square, London. Even after OFAC designated Deripaska, Bonham-Carter continued to work for Deripaska and refer to Deripaska as his “boss.” For example, in an email dated on or about June 18, 2018, Bonham-Carter wrote: “Times a bit tough for my boss as sanctions have hit him from the USA so not an ideal time.” In an email dated on or about Oct. 13, 2021, Bonham-Carter wrote: “It[’]s all good apart from banks keep shutting me down because of my affiliation to my boss Oleg Deripaska…. I have even been advised not to go to the USA where Oleg still has personal sanctions as the authorities will undoubtedly pull me to one side and the questioning could be hours or even days!!”
As alleged in the indictment, after Deripaska’s designation, Bonham-Carter engaged in over $1 million of illicit transactions to fund real estate properties in the United States for Deripaska’s benefit. Between in or about 2005 and in or about 2008, Deripaska purchased three residential properties in the United States, two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C. (the U.S. Properties). The properties were managed by a company named Gracetown Inc. After OFAC imposed sanctions on Deripaska on or about April 6, 2018, Gracetown Inc. continued to manage the properties Deripaska’s benefit. Shortly after Deripaska’s designation, Deripaska instructed Bonham-Carter to set up a new company for managing Deripaska’s properties. On or about May 25, 2018, Bonham-Carter wrote in an email that “OVD [i.e., Deripaska] wants me to set up my own company to run the [Belgravia Square] house and to possibly include Japan, Italy, China and more.” Less than two months later, on or about July 17, 2018, Bonham-Carter incorporated GBCM Limited.
Between in or about March 2021 and in or about December 2021, while in Deripaska’s employ, Bonham-Carter transmitted payments for the upkeep of the U.S. Properties. Bonham-Carter wired payments totaling $1,043,964.30 from a bank account in Russia held in the name of GBCM Limited, to bank accounts held by Gracetown Inc. in New York City. Gracetown Inc. used the funds from GBCM Limited to pay for various expenses associated with the U.S. Properties, including staff salaries, property taxes and other services, and to maintain and keep up the U.S. Properties.
As alleged, Bonham-Carter also attempted to unlawfully transfer artwork purchased by Deripaska from an auction house in New York City to London through misrepresentations concealing Deripaska’s ownership of the artwork. In May 2021, when advised by the auction house that it had reason to believe that the artwork belonged to Deripaska, Bonham-Carter falsely stated that the artwork and a payment of $12,146 that Bonham-Carter had made to ship the Artwork do not belong to Deripaska. In fact, as Bonham-Carter knew, Deripaska had purchased the artwork, it remained his property, and the funds used to pay for shipping would be billed to Deripaska.
Bonham-Carter is charged in a three-count indictment with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), one count of violating IEEPA and one count wire fraud, each of which counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Task Force KleptoCapture Director Andrew C. Adams, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division made the announcement.
The FBI New York Field Office and Counterintelligence Division are investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. The National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom provided substantial assistance.
The investigation was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2 and run out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will continue to leverage all of the department’s tools and authorities to combat efforts to evade or undermine the collective actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anden Chow and Vladislav Vainberg for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.