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12 Oct, 2022 15:38

British businessman faces extradition over links to Russian tycoon

The Justice Department wants businessman Graham Bonham-Carter to stand trial for dodging sanctions
British businessman faces extradition over links to Russian tycoon

UK businessman Graham Bonham-Carter faces potential extradition to the US after he was arrested for allegedly conspiring to violate sanctions against his boss, Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the US Justice Department revealed in a statement on Tuesday. 

The man, a cousin of British award-winning actress Helena Bonham-Carter, was released on bail after his arrest earlier on Tuesday in London

He stands accused of making illegal transactions worth over $1 million to fund properties on behalf of Deripaska, the aluminum magnate who was personally sanctioned along with several other Russian “oligarchs” after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine earlier this year.

He also allegedly tried to sneak artwork Deripaska bought at a New York auction house into London by misrepresenting its ownership. 

Bonham-Carter obscured the origin of funding for upkeep and management of Deripaska’s lavish US assets, in violation of the international sanctions,” Manhattan attorney Damian Williams said in a statement on Tuesday.

He allegedly worked for the Russian for nearly two decades, managing his real estate portfolio in the UK and Europe even after the US Office of Foreign Assets Control labeled Deripaska a “Special Designated National” with whom it was forbidden to do business.

Authorities have charged Bonham-Carter with three counts, each carrying a maximum 20-year sentence: conspiring to evade US sanctions, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and wire fraud.

The investigation was carried out with “substantial assistance” from the UK’s National Crime Agency over a six-month period, during which time Bonham-Carter’s bank accounts were frozen under the suspicion that some of the properties and companies he was invested in actually belonged to Deripaska.

The Russian billionaire, founder of aluminum giant Rusal, was indicted in the US last month on sanctions violations, though no attempt has been made to extradite him. Deripaska was charged with hiring a woman to sell his California music studio and of attempting to send his girlfriend to the US to give birth to his child.

Then-US president Barack Obama declared a national emergency in 2014 allowing him to block the property of anyone determined to be “responsible or complicit in actions or policies that threatened the security, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine, or who materially assist, sponsor or provide support for individuals or entities engaging in such activities” – giving Washington a wide net to cast in sanctioning Russian targets.