British businessman arrested for conspiring to violate sanctions against Russian oligarch

Graham Bonham-Carter allegedly made payments for US properties owned by Oleg Deripaska, among other charges

Graham Bonham-Carter allegedly made wire payments and sought to transfer artwork on Oleg Deripaska's behalf. Shutterstock
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A British businessman has been arrested on charges of conspiring to violate sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Graham Bonham-Carter, who allegedly made payments for US properties owned by Mr Deripaska and tried to move the aluminium magnate's artwork in the US overseas, was arrested in the UK.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are seeking his extradition.

Mr Bonham-Carter appeared in a London court on Tuesday following the request and was released on conditional bail, according to Britain's National Crime Agency.

“Bonham-Carter obscured the origin of funding for upkeep and management of Mr Deripaska's lavish US assets, in violation of the international sanctions,” said Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

A lawyer for Mr Bonham-Carter, who has also charged with wire fraud, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Bonham-Carter is a cousin of actress Helena Bonham-Carter. His wife, mother and nephew died in a minibus crash in South Africa in 2008.

Mr Deripaska, 54, was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and government officials blacklisted by Washington in 2018 in connection with Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

The Justice Department last month charged Mr Deripaska with violating sanctions by using the US financial system to maintain three luxury properties, employing a woman to buy a California music studio on his behalf and by trying to have his girlfriend travel to the United States to bear his children.

Prosecutors said Mr Bonham-Carter has worked for entities controlled by Mr Deripaska since around 2003, and managed his residential properties in the UK and Europe.

Prosecutors said that in 2021, Mr Bonham-Carter wired just over $1 million from a Russian bank account for a company he controlled on Mr Deripaska's behalf to a New York bank account for Gracetown Inc, which manages Mr Deripaska's residential properties in the United States.

The payments were meant to pay for the maintenance of Mr Deripaska's two residential properties in New York and one in Washington DC, which he purchased between 2005 and 2008, prosecutors said.

Mr Bonham-Carter also sought in 2021 to transfer artwork Mr Deripaska bought from an auction house in New York City to London, and falsely told the auction house that the art did not belong to Mr Deripaska, prosecutors said.

The charges come as the US Department of Justice tries to pressure Russian oligarchs through sanctions, asset seizures and criminal probes to stop backing Russian President Vladimir Putin after the country's war against Ukraine.

Mr Deripaska, the billionaire founder of aluminium giant Rusal, is worth $2.8 billion, according to Forbes.

He once said he started his business at a “unique time — one country was gone, and the other had not yet appeared”.

“The first gave me the opportunity to get a wonderful education, the second, to succeed.”

He was the richest person in Russia and the 9th most wealthy in the world in 2008, before losing almost all of it in the financial crisis, due to crashing markets and large debts.

Forbes estimated him to be the 1,729th most wealthy billionaire in its 2022 list.

Updated: October 12, 2022, 10:12 AM