Russian billionaire and businessman Roman Abramovich next to a model of a Gulfstream G650ER with registration SP-TOP at Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport in Gdansk, Poland.
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images/Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images
- The US obtained warrants to seize two luxury jets linked to oligarch Roman Abramovich on Monday.
- The court documents reveal five shell companies the FBI alleges Abramovich used to buy the jets.
- The Boeing and Gulfstream aircrafts linked to the oligarch are worth a combined $400 million.
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich used a series of shell companies and trusts to purchase two luxury aircrafts worth a combined $400 million, an FBI agent alleged in court documents filed Monday in the Southern District of New York.
In a sworn affidavit, FBI special agent Alan Fowler mapped out five shell companies based in Cyprus, Jersey, and the British Virgin Islands that the FBI has linked to the Russian billionaire.
The court documents, filed in support of a US application for a seizure warrant granted Monday, shed light on the intricate financial structures individuals have long used to control their foreign assets. By layering shell companies, trusts, and holding companies based in various tax havens around the world, the wealthy can achieve a certain level of buyer anonymity, as experts have previously told Insider.
In most countries, companies selling luxury goods such as yachts and planes are not required to follow the anti-money laundering procedures that are in place at larger financial institutions, Gary Kalman, executive director of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International, told Insider.
“The only thing they have to look at is immediate purchaser,” Kalman said. “So if it’s five layers down … they were just looking at the immediate trust trying to purchase the plane that didn’t list [Abramovich’s] name anywhere.”
Creating multiple layers of shell companies to oversee assets worth millions of dollars is “fairly common” among people of Abramovich’s net worth, he explained. By setting up companies in various countries, it makes building a case that much harder due to the time it takes for law enforcement to cooperate across borders, he added.
“If they do it properly, making use of various loopholes laws, it can be impossible to track down,” Kalman said.
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