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US gets warrant to seize a sanctioned Russian oligarch's airplane worth over $90 million and owned through 'series of shell companies'

Airplane owned by Russian oligarch Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch
Russian oligarch and government official Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch owns an Airbus A319-100 through shell companies and trusts connected to his romantic partner, according to the DOJ.

Courtesy of Justice Department

  • The US is looking to seize an airplane owned by billionaire Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch.

  • Skoch was first sanctioned in 2018 for his ties to Russia's parliament and organized crime.

  • A warrant was obtained based on probable cause of violating anti-money laundering laws, per the DOJ.

The US secured a warrant from the District Court for the Southern District of New York to seize an airplane owned by the billionaire Russian businessman and government official Andrei Vladimirovich Skoch, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

The plane is estimated to be worth over $90 million and is subject to seizure and forfeiture "based on probable cause of violation of the federal anti-money laundering laws," the DOJ wrote on Monday.

Skoch has been a member of the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, since 1999. He was once ranked the richest man sitting in Russia's parliament, The Guardian reported.

Around April 6, 2018, he was sanctioned by the US for his role in the Russian government and his "longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups, including time spent leading one such enterprise," the Justice Department wrote. Skoch has denied the ties, according to Forbes.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is responsible for enforcing sanctions, placed further restrictions against Skoch and his assets.

"On or about March 24, 2022, OFAC designated Skoch and other members of the Duma for "support(ing) the Kremlin's efforts to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the DOJ wrote.

Of interest is an Airbus A319-100, which Skoch owns through a "series of shell companies and trusts tied to his romantic partner," according to the DOJ.

Airbus is a European aerospace company. The particular model owned by Skoch can have a seating capacity of up to 156 people, according to the company's website.

Since countries have moved aggressively to enforce international sanctions against Russia's most wealthy and powerful figures, the US has blocked or froze more than $30 billion worth of Russian assets as of June 29 through the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force. The group, which consists of the DOJ, the Treasury Department, and international allies,  launched shortly after the Ukraine invasion. 

Read the original article on Business Insider