Russian billionaire charged with violating US sanctions

NEW YORK (AP) — A Russian billionaire and three associates were criminally charged in New York on Thursday with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions and plotting to ensure his child was born in the United States.

The Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, 52, has faced economic sanctions since 2018, when he was designated for them by the U.S. Treasury Department, which said he had acted for or on behalf of a senior Russian official and had operated in the energy sector of the Russian economy.

Andrew C. Adams, a Manhattan federal prosecutor who heads a task force pursuing crimes by Russian oligarchs, said in a release that Deripaska had lied and evaded U.S. sanctions as he sought to benefit from life in America “despite his cozy ties with the Kremlin and his vast wealth acquired through ties to a corrupt regime.”

“The hypocrisy in seeking comfort and citizenship in the United States, while enjoying the fruits of a ruthless, anti-democratic regime, is striking,” Adams said. "That Deripaska practiced that hypocrisy through lies and criminal sanctions evasion has made him a fugitive from the country he so desperately wished to exploit.”

Only Olga Shriki, 42, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was arrested. Federal authorities said Shriki, a U.S. citizen, tried to help another woman charged in the case — Ekaterina Olegovna Voronina, 33, of Russia — to get into the United States to give birth to Deripaska's child.

An indictment said a third woman charged in the case — Natalia Bardakova, 45, of Russia — often directed Shriki to engage in illegal transactions on Deripaska's behalf. It said she also told Shriki to send flowers and gifts to a U.S. television host, flowers to a then-former Canadian Parliament member and flowers to Voronina when she was in the United States to give birth in 2020.

Besides being charged with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions, Shriki was also charged with obstruction of justice after authorities said she deleted electronic records after receiving a grand jury subpoena requiring that the records be produced. Shriki was released on $2 million bail. Her lawyer, Bruce Maffeo, declined comment.

Authorities said Deripaska spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it possible for his child to be born in the United States so the child could take advantage of the U.S. health care system and benefits of a U.S. birthright. The child, upon birth, received U.S. citizenship.

Following the birth, Deripaska's three co-defendants conspired to conceal the name of the child's true father by slightly misspelling the child's last name, the indictment said.

The indictment said Deripaska counseled Voronina to be “careful" ahead of interviews with U.S. immigration authorities when she applied for a U.S. visa for a purported 10-day tourism visit that was actually a plot to stay for six months to give birth to Deripaska's child. It said a plot for her to have a second child in the U.S. this year failed.

According to the indictment, Deripaska was the owner and controller of Basic Element Limited, a private investment and management company used to advance his various business interests.

The indictment included demands that Deripaska and his codefendants forfeit luxury assets in the United States - including a Washington, D.C. property and two Manhattan properties.