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U.S. charges British man with helping Russian oligarch evade sanctions

"It[’]s all good apart from banks keep shutting me down because of my affiliation to my boss Oleg Deripaska," Graham Bonham-Carter wrote in an email last year, the indictment says.
Graham Bonham-Carter
Graham Bonham-Carter.David Crump / Daily Mail via Shutterstock file

A British businessman was arrested in the United Kingdom on Tuesday on charges of helping Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska evade sanctions imposed by the United States, federal prosecutors said.

Graham Bonham-Carter, 62, is accused of wiring more than $1 million to cover the upkeep of three homes belonging to Deripaska in the U.S. Prosecutors say Bonham-Carter also attempted to transfer artwork, which Deripaska had purchased from a New York auction house, to London by falsely claiming that it was not owned by the billionaire aluminum and metals magnate.

Bonham-Carter was charged in a three-count indictment with wire fraud, conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. It was not clear if he had hired a lawyer.

“The international real estate market, and its infamous opacity, afforded Bonham-Carter no shelter from the diligence and expertise of U.S. law enforcement and our partners,” said Andrew Adams, director of the Department of Justice’s Kleptocapture task force. 

The indictment against Bonham-Carter was unsealed less than two weeks after Deripaska was charged in the U.S. with violating sanctions imposed against members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle in 2018.

Prosecutors say Deripaska, a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, violated the sanctions by, among other things, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure that his child would be born in the U.S. and be able to take advantage of the U.S. health care system.

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia.
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on June 17, 2022.Olga Maltseva / AFP via Getty Images file

The indictment against Bonham-Carter makes references to emails in which he laments Deripaska's predicament and refers to him as "my boss."

“Times a bit tough for my boss as sanctions have hit him from the USA so not an ideal time," Bonham-Carter wrote in an email dated June 18, 2018, the indictment says.

In another dated Oct. 13, 2021, the British man 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!!” the indictment says.

The indictment alleges that a company called Gracetown, Inc. managed Deripaska’s two homes in New York and his home in Washington, D.C. It says that Bonham-Carter wired more than $1.4 million to the company for upkeep, staff salaries and property taxes on those homes, a violation of U.S. sanctions. 

The indictment also says that Bonham-Carter used his own credit card to pay $12,146.85 to move Deripaska's artwork from New York to London, and planned to bill him afterward. The auction house denied the transfer of the artwork, which was not identified, over concerns about running afoul of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces sanctions.