On Monday, a federal judge in New York signed a warrant permitting the Justice Department to seize two jets belonging to the Russian businessman Roman Abramovich that are worth more than $400 million.
The seizure effort and administrative complaint are the most recent in a series of penalties and economic attacks by the United States and other Western nations against Russian oligarchs in response to their nation's invasion of Ukraine.
The Bureau of Industry of the United States Department of Commerce also started administrative proceedings against Abramovich.
A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and a Gulfstream G650ER are associated with Abramovich, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to records filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Prosecutors alleged that both aircraft were flown to Russia in March in contravention of U.S. export restrictions set after Russia's invasion on Ukraine. Without a BIS license, these prohibitions prohibit the export, reexport, and transfer of U.S.-made aircraft and aviation parts and components to or inside Russia.
The Boeing, which court records indicate is worth a staggering $350 million, is currently in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Based on another court record, the Gulfstream is in Russia.
An FBI agent's declaration states that Abramovich "owned and/or controlled the Gulfstream and the Boeing through a network of shell corporations."
Abramovich is listed as the beneficiary of an entity in Cyprus called "The Europa Settlement Trust," which in turn controlled an entity called Wotten Overseas Holdings Ltd. in Jersey.
According to the statement, Wotton operated a Jersey-based shell business called Clear Skies Flights Ltd., which owned the Gulfstream.
Wenham Overseas Ltd., which is domiciled in the British Virgin Islands and owns the Boeing plane, is another shell business that Wotton owns.
In April, authorities in Jersey froze assets estimated to be worth over $7 billion and suspected to be associated with Abramovich.
Jersey is an autonomous nation off the coast of Normandy, France, and is part of the Channel Islands. Its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
A week after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Abramovich announced he would sell the renowned London soccer club Chelsea, which he had owned for over two decades, and donate the revenues to "all victims of the war in Ukraine."
The British government approved the sale of Chelsea to Todd Boehly, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, for more than $3 billion in May.