Federal agents were carrying out “law enforcement activity” on Tuesday at a Washington mansion and New York City townhouse tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
FBI officials would not provide any additional information about the circumstances surrounding their presence at either property or any information about potential investigations involving Deripaska.
A spokesperson for Deripaska told reporters that the searches were “connected to U.S. sanctions" and that the homes didn't belong to him but belonged to relatives.
The sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018 prevent him from doing business or owning property in the U.S.
In Washington, the agents were carrying out “court-authorized law enforcement activity” at the multimillion-dollar mansion, an agency spokesperson said. Yellow police tape blocked the driveway, and an FBI agent stood guard outside as fellow agents came and went from the home throughout the day. A vehicle was later seen being lifted onto a tow truck at the house.
In imposing the sanctions against Deripaska in 2018, the Treasury Department said he “has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.”
He sued, unsuccessfully, to try to force the government to overturn those sanctions and his lawyers argued that the penalties cost him billions of dollars.
The wealthy Russian who made his money in the aluminum business is a close ally of Putin and was mentioned multiple times in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Deripaska also had ties to Paul Manafort, former President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, who was convicted of eight financial crimes as part Mueller’s investigation. Manafort was later pardoned by Trump.
The Treasury Department, under the Trump administration, lifted financial sanctions on three companies connected to Deripaska. Officials said at the time they had done so because Derapaska’s direct and indirect shareholding stake in the three companies had been reduced to the point that he no longer has control over them. The sanctions against Deripaska himself remain.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.