The Biden administration continues to impose sanctions on Russia and target the country’s oligarchs, and now some of these super-rich individuals are having their assets and property seized overseas.
The Russian oligarchs are also connected to numerous properties in New York, including a posh townhouse in the West Village. But grabbing this property isn’t that simple, as the I-Team has found that Russian real estate often hides behind networks of shell companies.
The Gay Street building is emblematic of the difficulty of targeting these sanctions to have maximum impact. For years, the US Treasury Department knew the building was linked to a Russian oligarch – but federal authorities were unable or unwilling to seize the property.
No, the door at 12 Gay Street was answered, and the neighbors said no one had lived at the residence for years.
The townhouse, worth an estimated $14 million, has long been linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a federally-sanctioned billionaire since 2018.
In 2021, the property was raided by the FBI, and while the exact reasons are still unclear, it was possibly related to the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference.
Now that the Justice Department has announced a crackdown on assets belonging to Russian elites, it’s reasonable to wonder if the West Village home could be in the crosshairs.
However, experts say targeting real estate connected to New York’s Kremlin can be like a mole game.
“The whole problem with the Russian oligarchs is that they have the most sophisticated advisers in the world who tell them the best way to hide their assets, and they use the most secret jurisdictions,” the journalist said. investigation and author Seth Hettena.
He has written extensively about the Russian oligarchs and their vast real estate holdings in Manhattan. Hettena said 12 Gay Street is a perfect example of how oligarchs hide assets they control.
The deed says it’s owned by a Delaware LLC called Lucina, but city tax records show a UK shell company called Gracetown International is paying the bills. This company is linked to another London company called Terra Services, which Oleg Deripaska previously controlled. But when those 2018 sanctions hit, he ceded control to an associate.
“The problems you have trying to trace the property are the investigators’ problem,” Hettena said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that new sanctions targeting oligarchs were being used to add strategic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We want him to feel the pressure, we want the people around him to feel the pressure. I don’t believe this will be the last group of oligarchs [to be targeted].”
To help investigators uncover New York City real estate linked to the Kremlin, State Senator Brad Hoylman has drafted a bill that would require LLCs to list their beneficial owners — domestic and foreign.
“Those who use New York real estate to launder money, hide assets, support foreign governments like Russia — well, now is the time to confront them,” Hoylman said.
In recent days, Deripaska’s social media posts have shown the possibility of him breaking up with President Vladimir Putin. He posted that peace cannot come soon enough in Ukraine and that peace talks must take place immediately – a possible sign that the oligarchs are starting to feel the pressure.
In previous years, when sanctions were imposed, the oligarchs could move their assets to other Western countries. But now that most of these countries have sanctions, there are fewer places to hide the money.