Graham Bonham-Carter, a British businessman, has been charged with violating U.S. sanctions after allegedly helping Russian metals magnate Oleg Deripaska move an artwork across national borders.
Bonham-Carter, who was arrested on Tuesday, has been accused of aiding in the maintenance of properties owned by Deripaska and of exporting an artwork owned by the oligarch from New York to London. The U.S. government is seeking to extradite him.
A Justice Department statement alleged that the prominent British businessman continued to oversee maintenance and transactions related to three of Deripaska’s residential properties, including two in New York, following sanctions imposed on him in 2018 by the U.S. government. The illegal transactions are estimated at a collective $1 million, according to the U.S. agency.
Bonham-Carter, who referred to Deripaska as his “boss” in an email obtained by U.S. authorities, is also accused of trying to ship an artwork purchased by Deripaska from an unnamed auction house in New York City to London. He allegedly concealed the magnate’s ownership of the artwork despite the auction house’s inquiries into the owner’s identity. Details of the artwork have not been disclosed.
In March, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the formation of an international task force to target assets owned by blacklisted Russians with links to President Vladimir Putin. It said it was also eyeing “enablers and gatekeepers” who were facilitating the movement of sanctioned assets.
Auction houses came under heightened scrutiny for business ties to a small but powerful base of Russian clientele as authorities pledged to zero in on a network of advisors active in wealth shielding.
Deripaska, who has long held ties to U.K. officials, was indicted by the Justice Department for sanctions violations at the end of September. He was accused of attempting to illegally secure U.S. citizenship for his partner and unborn child.
While other sanctioned oligarchs have remained out of public view in the aftermath of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, Deripaska was present for the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum SPIEF 2022 in June.
He amassed his wealth through a state-owned aluminum business following the fall of the Soviet Union, eventually consolidating it with the natural resources conglomerate Rusal group alongside sanctioned former Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.