DOJ Charges Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Three Associates for Sanctions Evasion and Obstruction of Justice
In a significant action, the Justice Department brought criminal charges against the notorious Russian Oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, for sanctions evasion and obstruction of justice. DOJ also charged three associates, Natalya Bardakova, a Russian citizen, Olga Shriki, a New Jersey resident and United States citizen, and Ekaterina Voronina, Deripaska’s girlfriend.
Shriki is also charged with obstruction of justice for deleting various electronic records after she received a grand jury subpoena requiring production of those records. Ekaterina Voronina is charged with making false statements to Homeland Security agents when she tried to enter the country to give birth to Deripaska’s child. Shriki has been arrested. The other three defendants have not been apprehended.
The criminal case centers on Deripaska’s company, Basic Element, a private investment and management company. Deripaska was first sanctioned on April 6, 2018, as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”).
After his designation as an SDN, Deripaska conspired with others to evade and violate the sanctions in a number of ways. As charged in the indictment, Deripaska used his corporate entity Gracetown, Inc., to gain access to the U.S. financial system to manage three luxury properties in the United States. In executing this part of the conspiracy, Deripaska employed Shriki and Bardakova to arrange services for his three luxury properties.
For example, in 2019, Shriki facilitated for Deripaska’s benefit the sale of a music studio in California for over $3 million. Deripaska owned the studio through a series of corporate shell companies. After the sale of the music studio, Shriki sought to expatriate over $3 million in proceeds through a shell company linked to another Deripaska shell company.
Bardakova, who was based in Russia, directed Shriki to conduct the illegal transactions for Deripaska. Between 2018 and 2020, Bardakova directed Shriki to send flower and gifts to Deripaska’s social contacts.
Later in 2020, Shriki and Bardakova helped Deripaska’s girlfriend, Voronina, travel from the United States to give birth to their child in the United States. Deripaska funded approximately $300,000 for medical care, housing, childcare and other logistics so that his child would take advantage of the health care system and U.S. birthright citizenship. Deripaska counseled Voronina on how to obtain a U.S. visa by instructing her to be “careful” prior to the interview by U.S. immigration officers. Voronina applied for and obtained a U.S. visa for a tourism visit without disclosing her intent to travel and stay in the U.S. for six months to give birth to Deripaska’s child. Shriki, Bardakova and Voronina conspired to conceal Deripaska’s relationship to the child.
Later, in 2022, Shriki and Bardakova sought to arrange Voronina’s return to the U.S. to give birth to Deripaska’s second child. To do so, Bardakova and Voronina made false statements to conceal Deripaska’s financing and connection to Voronina. Their attempt was thwarted and Voronina was denied entry and returned immediately to Istanbul from the United States.
Deripaska, Bardakova an Shriki were charged with one count of conspiracy to violate and evade U.S. sanctions. Shriki is further charged in one count of destruction of records. Bardakova and Voronina are also each charged with one count of making false statements to federal agents. The indictment includes a forfeiture account to recover the proceeds from the sale of the music studio.