British businessman charged over helping Russian oligarch evade

British Businessman Charged Over Helping Russian Oligarch Evade U.S. Sanctions

A British businessman has been arrested and faces extradition to the United States accused of violating sanctions imposed on Russian oligarch Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska.

Prosecutors in the US allege Graham Bonham-Carter made payments for Deripaska’s local properties and made attempts to move artwork totaling $USD$12,146 overseas.

The US Department of Justice has imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs they claim have connections to the Kremlin in condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine.

Some sanctions – including those on Deripaska – date back to 2018, following Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 federal election.

Bonham-Carter, 62, was arrested on Tuesday and is alleged to have assisted Deripaska in handling his American real estate in 2021, years after these sanctions were imposed.

Prosecutors allege Bonham-Carter wired just over $USD 1 million (£910,000) from a Russian bank account to a New York bank account which managed the oligarch’s residential properties in the United States.

He’s also accused of attempting to transfer artwork Deripaska purchased from a New York auction house to London. 

It’s alleged Bonham-Carter, who is a second-cousin of A-list actress Helena Bonham Carter, falsely told the auction house the art did not belong to Deripaska.

According to court documents, Bonham-Carter worked for companies in Deripaska’s control since 2003 – including managing his properties across the United Kingdom and Europe. 

Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said: ‘Bonham-Carter obscured the origin of funding for upkeep and management of Deripaska’s lavish US assets, in violation of the international sanctions.’

Court documents reveal Bonham-Carter referred to Deripaska as his ‘boss’ as recently as October 13, 2021.

In an email, he 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!’ 

Deripaska, 54, is one of a group of businessmen known as oligarchs who control large parts of the Russian economy, especially in energy and commodities, and have been able to preserve their fortunes on condition that they stay out of politics. 

Following the United States’ request for extradition, Bonham-Carter was ordered to face a London court where he was granted conditional bail.

He has been charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, one count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and one count of wire fraud.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The FBI New York Field Office and Counterintelligence Division are investigating the case.

A lawyer for Bonham-Carter is also facing charges of wire fraud.