U.S. federal prosecutors said they have obtained a warrant to seize a private airplane worth more than $90 million that is allegedly owned by blacklisted Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch, in the administration’s latest effort to scrutinize the assets of rich and powerful Russians following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
The plane, an
A319-100, has been in Kazakhstan since March, based on a warrant from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
Mr. Skoch, a member of Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and currently a deputy in the Duma, was first sanctioned in 2018 for being an official of the Government of the Russian Federation and for allegedly having longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups, according to the warrant, which became public Monday. Mr. Skoch and his assets faced further sanctions for allegedly supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Airbus plane, as well as a 324-foot yacht and a helicopter on the yacht, were identified in June as blocked property linked to Mr. Skoch, the warrant said. The prosecutors said Mr. Skoch was the beneficial owner of the plane through a series of shell companies and trusts tied to his romantic partner. Between 2018 and 2021, payments in U.S. dollars were made to the Aruban government for the plane’s registration and for aviation insurance premiums, the Justice Department said.
Mr. Skoch couldn’t be reached for comment. Spokespeople for the Russian Duma didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Russia’s embassy in Washington, D.C., said the embassy has no information on Mr. Skoch’s property.
The move to seize the airplane is the latest action from the U.S. Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, which was set up to focus on financial institutions and other entities that have helped Russian oligarchs move money and evade sanctions. The interagency task force has aimed to flush out the luxury real estate, private jets and other assets of wealthy Russian businessmen who are close to the Kremlin. It is part of a blizzard of actions the West has taken to raise the potential price Russian President
and his supporters could pay for the invasion of Ukraine.
Write to Mengqi Sun at email@example.com
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