Putin’s man in Ukraine nets British man indictment

An U.K. national was arrested today in connection with a conspiracy to break 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 transfer Deripaska’s artwork in America. United States through misrepresentations. It is believed that the U.S. government will seek his extradition to the United States. Deripaska was earlier 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 regard to the situation in Ukraine. To address the crisis, the President blocked all property of individuals determined to be by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to be responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threaten the sovereignty, security or integrity territorial of Ukraine or who assist, sponsor or offer support to people or entities engaged in these activities. Executive Order 13660 and regulations made pursuant to it ban receiving or transferring any money products or services, to, from or for the benefit of any person designated to be a beneficiary by U.S. Treasury.

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On April 6, 2018 The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) declared Deripaska as Specially Designated National (SDN) as a result of its conclusion that the actions taken by the Government of the Russian Federation in relation to Ukraine are an extraordinary and significant risk of U.S. national security and foreign policy (the OFAC Sanctions). In the words of the U.S. Treasury, Deripaska was sanctioned because he acted or claimed to have acted on behalf of directly or indirectly, a high official of the Government of the Russian Federation as well as for working in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy.

According to court documents, Graham Bonham-Carter aged 62, who is from in the United Kingdom, worked for the Deripaska-controlled entities from July 2003 through the present. In addition Bonham-Carter was the manager of Deripaska’s home properties located in both the United Kingdom and Europe, including a home in Belgravia Square, London. Even after OFAC declared Deripaska as an offender, Bonham-Carter continued be employed by Deripaska and even refer to Deripaska as his “boss.” For example in an email sent around June 18 in 2018 Bonham-Carter wrote that: “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. 13, 2021, Bonham-Carter said “It[‘]s great apart from banks keep shutting me down because of my connection to Oleg Deripaska, my manager. Oleg Deripaska …. I have even been advised not to go to the USA where Oleg still has personal sanctions because the authorities will undoubtedly pull me to one side and question me for hours or even days! !”

As alleged in the indictment, following Deripaska’s appointment, Bonham-Carter was involved in more than $1 million worth of illicit transactions to fund real property properties located in the United States for Deripaska’s benefit. Between in or about 2005 and in or about 2008, Deripaska purchased three residential properties within 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 was able to impose sanctions on Deripaska in or around April 6 on or about April 6, 2018, Gracetown Inc. continued to manage the properties for Deripaska’s benefit. After Deripaska’s denial, Deripaska instructed Bonham-Carter to create a new company for the management of the properties owned by Deripaska. In the early morning of May 25 2018 Bonham-Carter sent in an email “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.” A little less than two months later, on or about July 17, 2018, Bonham-Carter incorporated GBCM Limited.

Between around March 2021 and in or about the end of December 2021 while under the direction of Deripaska, Bonham-Carter transmitted payments for maintenance of the U.S. Properties. Bonham-Carter made wire transfers totaling $1,043,964.30 from a bank account in Russia which was held under 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 related to its U.S. Properties, including the salaries of staff tax, property taxes and other services in order to keep and keep up the U.S. Properties.

According to the complaint, Bonham-Carter attempted to unlawfully transfer artwork purchased by Deripaska from an auction house that was located in New York City to London by omitting the ownership of Deripaska of the art. In May 2021, after being the auction house was advised that there was a reason to believe that the work was owned by Deripaska Bonham-Carter misrepresented that the art work and a payment of $12146 that Bonham-Carter made to ship the Artwork did not belong to Deripaska. In fact, as Bonham-Carter knew, Deripaska had purchased the artwork, it remained his property and the funds used to purchase shipping would be billed to Deripaska.

Bonham-Carter is charged in a three-count indictment , including one count of conspiring to break and circumvent 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 the charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The federal court of district judges will determine the sentence based on the U.S. Guidelines for Sentencing and other legal elements.

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 conducting an investigation into the matter, assisted by invaluable assistance from 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 has provided significant assistance.