The Department of Justice on Tuesday revealed they had arrested a British national enlisted by Russian oligarch, Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, to manage his New York real estate.
Graham Bonham-Carter had been working for Deripaska since 2003, which included managing properties in the United Kingdom and Europe as well.
Deripaska is the billionaire founder of aluminum giant Rusal with close ties to Vladimir Putin. Bonham-Carter is a member of the politically connected family that includes English actress Helena Bonham-Carter.
In 2018, Graham Bonham-Carter, 62, was instructed to set up new companies for Deripaska following sanctions against “individuals determined by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to be responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threatened the security, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
US officials had placed Deripaska on a sanctions list in 2018 over his alleged involvement in murder, money laundering, bribery and racketeering.
At that point, Deripaska had owned three residential properties in the United States, two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C., which he purchased between 2005 and 2008, according to the DOJ.
“Times a bit tough for my boss as sanctions have hit him from the USA so not an ideal time,” Bonham-Carter said in a June 18, 2018 email outlined by the DOJ.
On Oct. 13, 2021, Bonham-Carter wrote: “It[’]s all good apart from banks keep shutting me down because of my affiliation to my boss Oleg Deripaska…. I have even been advised not to go to the USA where Oleg still has personal sanctions as the authorities will undoubtedly pull me to one side and the questioning could be hours or even days!!”
According to the DOJ, Bonham-Carter “engaged in over $1 million of illicit transactions to fund real estate properties in the United States for Deripaska’s benefit.”
Those properties include townhouses in Lenox Hill and the West Village, which Deripaska bought for nearly $50 million, in addition to a 11,600-square-foot mansion in D.C.
He transferred the properties to relatives after being banned from the US.
Despite Bonham-Carter taking over his boss’ assets, more than $15,000 in interest has accrued on $175,000 due in 2022, according to the city’s Department of Finance.
In total, he is charged with three crimes — two related to sanctions violations and one count of wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison. The DOJ also accused Bonham-Carter of lying to an auction house after trying to move a piece of Deripaska’s art from New York to London.
The government will seek to extradite Bonham-Carter, who appeared in a London courtroom Tuesday, to the US.
The crackdown on Russian oligarchs owning luxury property in New York has heightened in the past year as the Russia-Ukraine war escalates.
“For years Manhattan has been one of the most popular safe harbors for Russian oligarchs to park their cash, especially via ultra-high-end apartments,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine tweeted in February. “It’s time to start seizing their properties.”
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.