The United States won the power to seize the planes of the Russian oligarchy

NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) – A U.S. court on Monday issued warrants for the seizure of two luxury planes belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich under US action imposed following Russia’s occupation of Ukraine.

But the US government’s chance of gaining control of the nearly $ 400 million aircraft is uncertain.

A Justice Department official said the $ 350 million Boeing 787 Dreamliner and $ 60 million Gulfstream G650 ER were not in US custody, and declined to say if the U.S. government knew their whereabouts.

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A federal judge in Manhattan has issued warrants for recent aircraft violations of US export restrictions imposed after Russia’s occupation of Ukraine in February. The U.S. Department of Commerce has filed administrative charges against Abramovich.

But the official said the warrants would prevent companies from moving the plane. U.S. officials are trying to pressure business leaders close to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop calling the Kremlin its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Abramovich’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Abramovich has denied any involvement with Putin.

The Gulf Stream flew from Istanbul to Moscow on March 12, flew to Tel Aviv the next day, and again flew from Istanbul to Moscow on March 15. Boeing flew from Dubai to Moscow on March 4, the Commerce Department said.

Because the planes were manufactured in the United States and operated after the export restrictions came into force, Abramovich, a Russian national, would have needed a trade license to fly them to Russia. No licenses were sought, but an executive told reporters that it was the department’s policy to refuse such requests.

The department is seeking a $ 328,121 fine for one unlicensed aircraft for Abramovich or a fine of approximately $ 1 million for three aircraft.

“Russian oligarchs like Abramovich will not be allowed to violate US export regulations without any consequences,” trade official John Saunderman said in a statement.

Trade moved in March to effectively land the Gulf Stream of Abramovich, with 99 aircraft claiming to have recently flown to Russia in violation of export restrictions. read more

Prosecutors said Abramovich owned both planes through a series of shell companies registered in Cyprus, Jersey and the British Virgin Islands. In February, he restructured the owner structure to turn his children into beneficiaries of a trust that eventually owned both aircraft.

But when he flew to Moscow next month, he effectively continued to own and control the planes, the Commerce Department said.

Abramovich, who helped mediate the talks between Moscow and Kiev in the early days of the war, was not personally allowed by the United States. He has the approval of the European Union and the United Kingdom. read more

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Report by Luke Cohen and Karen Freefeld in New York; Additional Report by Katrina Demoni; Editing by Lisa Schumacher, Tomas Janowski and Cynthia Asterman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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