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UK businessman linked to Oleg Deripaska arrested on suspicion of facilitating sanctions evasion

The National Crime Agency yesterday secured the arrest of a London based businessman on suspicion of fraud and sanctions evasions.  

Graham Bonham-Carter is alleged to have assisted sanctioned Russian national, Oleg Deripaska, by concealing the ownership of Deripaska’s properties.

Following an extradition request from the US, Bonham-Carter subsequently appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court and was released on conditional bail.

Yesterday’s action, coordinated by the NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell (CKC), is the latest in a series of disruptive actions by the CKC, which works to disrupt the activities of corrupt international business figures.

Steve Rodhouse, NCA Director General (Operations) yesterday said:

“Oligarchs seeking to evade sanctions rely on skilled professionals to help them hide their true ownership of assets and sustain their lifestyles.  This criminality exploits global financial flows and hubs including the UK, and requires a collaborative international response.

“Working with partners around the world, the NCA is determined to identify and disrupt entities in the UK involved in hiding or moving illicit wealth.”

A billionaire industrialist, Deripaska was sanctioned by the UK for his association with the Government of Russia and Vladimir Putin, and for controlling a business in the Russian extractives and energy sector. This resulted in a full UK asset freeze and travel ban.

Bonham-Carter is believed to be linked to Deripaska through a number of high-value properties in the United States and in the UK – all suspected to be ultimately held for Deripaksa’s benefit. It is suspected that the true ownership of these properties is concealed through the use of complicated ownership structures and firms registered in the British Virgin Islands and other overseas jurisdictions.

He was charged with three counts under the US Code: Conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Ukraine-related sanctions regulations; Violating the same Act and Regulations; and Wire Fraud, and aiding and abetting wire fraud.

Working with colleagues at HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation and HM Land Registry, the NCA has previously ensured that Deripaska’s two London properties were included in the list of assets frozen by the sanctions designation. Those properties, a mansion in Belgrave Square and a private office in Cleveland Row next to St James’s Palace, are estimated to be collectively worth more than £50m.

In March this year the NCA secured two account freezing orders in respect of bank accounts held by Bonham-Carter. These orders were obtained on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the money in the accounts (approximately £110,000) was derived from the laundering of funds belonging to Deripaska, who was sanctioned by the US at the time.

On 29 September 2022, the US Department of Justice indicted Oleg Deripaksa and three associates for criminal sanctions violations. The US indictments cited transfers totalling millions of dollars to Gracetown Inc, a US company that maintains Deripaska’s two high-value properties in New York and another mansion in Embassy Row, Washington DC. Bonham Carter was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Gracetown Inc.

To date, the NCA’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell has secured a number of Freezing Orders (AFOs) over accounts held by individuals who are closely linked to sanctioned Russians, and an array of other disruptions against a range of Russian elites and their enablers. The CKC’s work has assisted in the freezing of numerous properties, eight yachts and four aircraft across the globe, and it continues to work in concert with OFSI to ensure that other assets in the UK are frozen, as well as with global partners to target illicit wealth held abroad. The total amount of assets currently frozen by sanctions in the UK is around £17 billion.  


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