Highly-sanctioned Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin indicted for sending flowers, arranging for child to be born in the US

Aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin, has been indicted for allegedly evading US sanctions through hidden financial transactions, including sending people flowers and arranging for his girlfriend to give birth to his child in America.

Deripaska, 52, who owns a majority stake in United Co. Rusal PLC, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, was placed on the US sanctions list in 2018 along with the conglomerate company he controls, Basic Element Ltd. That barred him from doing any business in the US

The sanctions were further tightened earlier this year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Shell companies and webs of lies will not shield Deripaska and his cronies from American law enforcement, nor will they protect others who support the Putin regime,” said Deputy US Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

Deripaska has been among Russia’s wealthiest men for decades, amassing his fortune beginning in the 1990s. He has long had close ties to Putin and been investigated around the world for money laundering, extortion and racketeering. He has denied the allegations.

Federal prosecutors said that despite the sanctions, Deripaska continued since 2018 to engage in financial transactions in America, using a corporate entity known as Gracetown Inc. to obscure his ownership of three luxury homes in the US worth tens of millions of dollars and to facilitate the sale of a California recording studio for $3 million.

Deripaska is also accused of paying over $300,000 to send his girlfriend, Yekaterina Voronina, 33, to the US in 2020, in order for her to give birth to their child, who then was granted American citizenship, court papers said.

In 2022, Voronina attempted to return to the US for the birth of their second child, but was stopped by immigration officials and sent back to Istanbul, Turkey, from where she had flown.

Prosecutors say that Deripaska’s employee, Natalia Bardakova, 45, helped arrange for many of his financial transactions in the US Among them was directing Olga Shriki, 42, a naturalized US citizen living in New Jersey, to make purchases on Deripaska’s behalf, including sending flowers and Easter baskets to his social contacts in America and Canada.

The recipients included an unnamed US television show host, a former member of Canada’s parliament, and Deripaska’s girlfriend while she was in America to give birth.

Prosecutors say Shriki, Bardakova, and Voronina all conspired to conceal the name of the child’s true father, Deripaska, going so far as to change, slightly, the spelling of the child’s last name.

Deripaska, Bardakova and Shriki are charged with conspiring to evade US sanctions for which they face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Shriki is also charged with destroying communications she had with Deripaska and Bardakova when federal investigators began asking questions. Voronina is charged with lying to federal agents when she arrived in the US in 2020, telling them she was there for tourism, rather than to give birth.

A representative for Deripaska didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. Bardakova and Voronina, who live in Russia, couldn’t immediately be reached and it wasn’t immediately clear if they had retained lawyers in the US It also wasn’t clear if Shriki had retained a lawyer. A phone number listed in her name rank unanswered.


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