US says associate of Russian oligarch Vekselberg charged with evading sanctions Reuters

By Kanishka Singh and Katharine Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors charged a Russian citizen who was also a U.S. resident with facilitating sanctions evasion and a money laundering scheme involving Russian billionaire oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, in an indictment unsealed in federal court on Tuesday, the Department said of the judiciary.

Vladimir Voronchenko, 70, of Moscow, is accused of participating in a payment scheme totaling more than $4 million to maintain four U.S. properties owned by Vekselberg, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Voronchenko, who lived in New York, Florida and Russia at different times, distinguished himself as a successful businessman, art collector, art dealer and Vekselberg’s close friend and business associate, according to the indictment.

Washington imposed sanctions on Vekselberg in 2018 over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and in 2022 over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin denies meddling in the elections and calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”.

Last month, the US government said it had charged two businessmen, one Russian and one British, with facilitating sanctions evasion and a money laundering scheme related to Vekselberg’s $90 million yacht.

Voronchenko is also charged with contempt of court in connection with his flight from the United States after receiving a grand jury subpoena requiring his personal appearance and testimony, the Justice Department added.

In May 2022, federal agents served Voronchenko with a grand jury subpoena, requiring him to appear in person to testify. About nine days later, Voronchenko flew from Miami, Florida to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and then went to Moscow, prosecutors said.

The Justice Department added that Voronchenko has not appeared before the grand jury and has not returned to the United States.

Voronchenko was not immediately available for comment.

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