Cold war. America freezes all Deripaska’s assets including elite mansions
The relations between the US authorities and Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska resemble a soap opera: the characters reunite and break up on a regular basis. The new melodrama series began with the freeze of all oligarch's financial assets, including two mansions in New York and Washington. Apparently, this is a hint that the billionaire may expect to get in America only a turkey for homeless people on the Thanksgiving Day. But for Deripaska, it's like water off a duck's back.
Alone without home
This week, the US authorities have frozen assets of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. The relations between the oligarch and the country where his children live have been cooling down for a while – but now not only US-based structures of Basic Element and other companies, but huge mansions of Deripaska on Manhattan and in Washington have been arrested.
The US authorities don’t make a secret of their plans – the frozen business shall make the oligarch more cooperative and talkative. Deripaska should cease to be a co-owner of business structures in Europe, thus, relieving those from the sanctions, and provide an insight into schemes used to launder money flowing from Russia. A classic “good cop – bad cop” scheme is used. Some ‘kind’ person has even permitted Deripaska’s ex-wife Polina and his children to continue living in the mansions.
Just a while ago, representatives of the American justice were more compassionate to the oligarch – a mutually-beneficial thaw in relations was expected instead of the frosts. Apparently, Deripaska misunderstood these advances – and Russian newspapers started publishing materials about unsuccessful attempts to convert the billionaire by the US Department of Justice – although the term ‘convert’ was not fully applicable in that situation.
Concurrently, Deripaska is eager to testify at the US Congress in exchange for immunity; he also continues collaborating with the FBI in the inquest into the disappearance of private investigator Robert Levinson. The oligarch has volunteered to help the FBI after the annulment of his American visa. The FBI has accepted his assistance but quickly got disappointed in his usefulness. Currently, the US Department of Justice suspects Deripaska of a number of crimes, including racketeering, bribe-giving, money laundering, and conspiracy in murder. Some of these suspicions pertain to the turbulent youth of the Head of Rusal – while others are targeting much closer locations, including his magnificent historical mansion in Washington.
He would like to live on Manhattan
Despite having another luxury 5-storey mansion on Manhattan purchased in 2008, Deripaska always stays in his Washington home during rare visits to the USA. Two storeys, seven bedrooms, and humble 23 thousand square meters are nothing in comparison with the grandeur of his New York residence – but something strongly attracts the billionaire to Washington: either the closeness of the Russian Embassy that has generously issued a diplomatic passport to the oligarch or good neighbors, including Ivanka Trump, Barack Obama, and other prominent American politicians.
Deripaska turned out to be a diligent homeowner. In 2010, he started a capital renovation of the mansion where he stays only a few days in a year. The kitchen, back terrace, and swimming pool have been redesigned, while the basement was completely rebuilt. Some Americans have even supposed that the alleged interference in the presidential elections was performed from that reconstructed basement. It is hard to say whether the US Department of Justice shares these suspicions – but Deripaska’s addiction to security (the mansion is full of surveillance cameras and security guards) leaves a wide room for such speculations.
In addition, Oleg Deripaska has taken steps to conceal his ownership of the mansion. The people residing in the mysterious home always ready to accommodate the Head of Rusal refer all visitors to Gracetown Inc. belonging to Graham Bonham-Carter. The person registered under that name with LinkedIn names Terra Services Limited his workplace. Up until January 25, 2018, Oleg Deripaska had owned a control block of shares in Terra Services. It is easy to track the link between the billionaire and his real estate – but a short chain of dummy persons is sufficient to get out of the American jurisdiction. Otherwise, Deripaska could face another grievous charge – obstruction of justice.
Wild, wild business
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the shocking revelations of Oleg Deripaska in the London High Court of Justice where he had a legal battle with Mikhail Cherney reportedly affiliated with Izmailovskie organized criminal group. Twelve years ago, the world became aware that the billionaire close to the circles of power was not only a friend of Cherney – but his business partner as well. The plaintiff told the London court that Deripaska has violated their agreement made by the ‘code’ and refused to pay Cherney his secret share in Rusal after his withdrawal from the company. Cherney had estimated the sustained losses at $3 billion.
Deripaska, who has married Polina Yumasheva by that time, was unwilling to be friends with Misha–Krysha (Misha the Cover) anymore. The billionaire had vehemently denied in court not only the financial claims but also any allegations of their friendship. Deripaska has shared with the court many facets of the Russian life using such terms as “organized criminal group”, “cover”, etc. The billionaire had posed as a victim of bandits’ lawlessness. Cherney, in turn, explained the role of Deripaska in protection racketeering of businesses and in a series of unsolved murders of directors of aluminum plants in the Urals. Apparently, materials of that litigation became the basis for accusations brought against the oligarch in the USA.
The heated argument between Cherney and Deripaska has resulted in a settlement agreement: Deripaska promised to pay 200 million to Cherney in six years. But the most interesting clause of that agreement became known to the public only last year: in addition to the payment of money, the billionaire has assumed the obligation to assist Cherney in getting rid of another creditor – Alexander Gliklad, a former shareholder of Kuzbassrazrezugol, demanding $270 million from Cherney. By the end of the 2000s, Gliklad also started settling deals made by the ‘code’ in courts and filed lawsuits against Cherney in New York and Israel. The path to the victory was thorny – and Gliklad quickly understood who was behind this.
During the examination of the Gliklad v. Deripaska case, the judge has announced the settlement agreement made between Deripaska and Cherney and providing that Deripaska shall take specific actions to assist Cherney in the Gliklad proceeding, including blocking witnesses for the Gliklad proceeding and providing documents to Cherney. As usually, Deripaska turned out to be an inefficient partner – Gliklad won the legal battle with Cherney but failed to bring Deripaska to liability. Based on several precedents, the judge had to admit that the oligarch owning his assets via dummy persons is not subject to the American jurisdiction.
During the litigation, Deripaska – caught in obstruction of justice – had freely visited the USA with his diplomatic passport. From that perspective, the freezing of his assets won’t change much in his situation. Daria Zhukova, ex-wife of Roman Abramovich, resides in Deripaska’s home on Manhattan, while his children live in Washington next door to Ivanka Trump. All of them are ready to provide hospitality to the ‘frozen’ oligarch should he decide to interfere into something else.
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