An 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 to funding U.S. properties purchased by Deripaska and attempts to repatriate his artwork to the United States through misrepresentations. The U.S. government will seek his extradition to the United States. Deripaska was earlier charged in connection with U.S. sanctions violations in an indictment that was released on September. 29.
In 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13660, which declared a national emergency regards to the current circumstances in Ukraine. To address the crisis The President stopped all property of individuals determined by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to be liable or complicit in actions or policies that threatened the security, sovereignty and 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 that follow it prohibit receiving or transferring any money, goods or services by, to, from or for the benefit of any person identified to be a beneficiary by U.S. Treasury.
On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Deripaska as Specially Designated National (SDN) in connection with its finding that the actions taken by the Government of the Russian Federation with regard to Ukraine pose an unusual and significant risk of U.S. national security and foreign policy (the OFAC Sanctions). As per the U.S. Treasury, Deripaska was sanctioned for having acted or purported to act on behalf of, whether directly or indirectly, high employee of an official of the Government of the Russian Federation and also for his involvement within the sector of energy in the Russian Federation economy.
As per court records, Graham Bonham Carter, 62, from in the United Kingdom, worked for entities controlled by Deripaska from July 2003 to the current. For instance Bonham-Carter was the manager of Deripaska’s home properties located within the United Kingdom and Europe, including a home in Belgravia Square, London. Even after OFAC identified Deripaska, Bonham-Carter continued to work for Deripaska and refer the name of Deripaska as his “boss.” For example in an email 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 that was sent around Oct. 13th, 2021. Bonham-Carter said “It[‘]s all good apart that banks are constantly shutting me out due to my affiliation to Oleg Deripaska, my manager. Oleg Deripaska …. I’ve been warned not to go to the USA where Oleg still has personal sanctions because the authorities will undoubtedly pull me off the beaten path and question me for hours or even days! !”
According to the indictment, after Deripaska’s naming, Bonham-Carter took part in more than $1 million in illegal transactions to fund real estate properties located in the United States for Deripaska’s benefit. Between in or about 2005 and in or around 2008 Deripaska acquired three residences located in the United States, two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C. (the U.S. Properties). The properties were administered by a company called Gracetown Inc. After OFAC imposed sanctions on Deripaska on or about April 6 on or about April 6, 2018 Gracetown Inc. continued to manage the properties for Deripaska’s benefit. Shortly after Deripaska’s designation, Deripaska instructed Bonham-Carter to set up a new company for the management of the properties owned by Deripaska. 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.” In less than two months later, or around July 17 the 17th of July, 2018, Bonham-Carter formed GBCM Limited.
Between in or about March 2021 and around December 2021, under the direction of Deripaska Bonham-Carter transferred payments to maintenance for the U.S. Properties. Bonham-Carter transferred payments of $1,043,964.30 from an account at a bank in Russia that was in the name of GBCM Limited, to bank accounts held by Gracetown Inc. in New York City. Gracetown Inc. used the money that came from GBCM Limited to pay for various costs associated with their U.S. Properties, including personnel salaries tax, property taxes and other services as well as to maintain and improve the U.S. Properties.
According to the complaint, Bonham-Carter tried to illegally transfer artwork purchased through Deripaska from an auction house situated in New York City to London through misrepresentations concealing Deripaska’s ownership of the art. In May 2021 when advised by the auction house that it had a reason to believe that the work was owned by Deripaska, Bonham-Carter falsely stated that the artwork and a payment of $12,146 that Bonham-Carter made to ship the Artwork did not belong to Deripaska. In fact, as Bonham-Carter understood, Deripaska had purchased the artwork, it remained his property and the funds that were used to pay for shipping would be charged to Deripaska.
Bonham-Carter faces charges in a three-count indictment with one count of conspiring to break and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) One count of breaking IEEPA in addition to one count of wire fraud, each of which charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. An federal judge in a district court will determine any sentence after taking into consideration 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, and have valuable assistance provided by The Justice Department’s National Security Division Counterintelligence and Export Control Section as well as the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs. In addition, the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom provided substantial assistance.