- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2022

Federal prosecutors lodged new charges against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska on Thursday for allegedly violating sanctions imposed on the billionaire as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

The Department of Justice unsealed the indictment against Mr. Deripaska, 52, in a Manhattan federal court and charged him with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions. 

Russian national Natalia Mikhaylovna Bardakova, 45, and naturalized U.S. citizen Olga Shriki, 42, were also charged for their roles in allegedly carrying out Mr. Deripaska’s scheme. 

Ekaterina Olegovna Voronina, 33, who is Mr. Deprisaka’s girlfriend, was arrested Thursday morning as well for making false statements to Department of Homeland Security agents when she had previously arrived in the U.S. 

Federal prosecutors said that the couple allegedly planned to have Ms. Voronina give birth to their child in the U.S. so they could take advantage of the nation’s birthright citizenship.

“Today’s indictment reflects the FBI’s commitment to use all of the tools at our disposal to aggressively pursue those who attempt to evade the United States’ economic countermeasures against the Russian government,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the Thursday release. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who violate measures imposed to protect the national security and foreign policy of the United States, especially in this time of Russia’s unprovoked aggression toward Ukraine.” 

Mr. Deripaska and his business, Basic Element, have been subjected to sanctions since 2018 for acting on behalf of the Russian government and the foreign nation’s energy sector. The oligarch allegedly had Ms. Bardakova and Ms. Shriki conduct his financial interests in the U.S. for years in order to evade the sanctions. 

Federal prosecutors said that Ms. Shriki facilitated the sale of a $3 million music studio in 2019 that Mr. Deripaska owned through various shell companies, which she then used to funnel the proceeds back to one of Mr. Deripaska’s companies based in Russia. 

Ms. Bardakova, who was largely based in Russia, and Ms. Shriki allegedly helped Ms. Voronina travel to the U.S. from Russia as well so the couple’s child could have American citizenship. That included Ms. Shriki coordinating the payment of $300,000 to fund housing, child care and medical care for Ms. Voronina while she was in the U.S., according to the charging documents.

Ms. Voronina allegedly applied and received a 10-day visa under the auspices of a tourism visit, but wound up staying in the U.S. for six months to give birth to her child. 

Ms. Shriki, Ms. Bardakova and Ms. Voronina also allegedly tried to conceal that Mr. Deripaska is the child’s father by slightly changing the spelling of the child’s last name. 

Federal authorities thwarted Ms. Voronina’s second attempt to get into the U.S. earlier this year when she flew back to deliver another child in the states. 

If convicted, the charges against Mr. Deripaska, Ms. Bardakova and Ms. Shriki carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

Ms. Shriki’s destruction of records charge, which federal prosecutors said she received for deleting electronic messages that tied her to the scheme, also carries a 20-year maximum sentence. Making false statements to federal agents carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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