U.S. Charges Sanctioned Oligarch Associate over Helping Violate Sanctions

Published: 13 February 2023

Wiktor WekselbergAluminum baron and longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Viktor Vekselberg. (Photo: Jürg Vollmer/Maiakinfo, Wikimedia, License)

By Vinicius Madureira

U.S. prosecutors have charged a friend of Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg with sanctions violation and money laundering because he allegedly helped maintain Vekselberg’s properties in the U.S. and even tried to sell two of them.

The indictment claims that Russian citizen with a U.S. permanent residency Vladimir Voronchenko transferred more than US$4 million from the oligarch’s shell companies towards the maintenance of four of Vekselberg’s properties.

The 70-year-old portrayed himself as a successful businessman, art collector and dealer, according to prosecutors. He fled to Russia last year after being subpoenaed. A New York court added contempt of court to the charges.

Vekselberg’s shell companies own an apartment on Park Avenue in New York, an estate in Southampton, New York, an apartment on Fisher Island, Florida, and a penthouse apartment also on Fisher Island, Florida. According to the DOJ, the properties are worth approximately $75 million.

Voronchenko and others tried to sell the two assets in New York, the indictment said.

Vekselberg was sanctioned in 2018 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. He was redesignated in March last year and OFAC blocked his yacht and airplane.

In connection with its finding that the actions of the Government of the Russian Federation in Ukraine constituted an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. On or about March 11, 2022, OFAC redesignated Vekselberg as an SDN and blocked Vekselberg’s yacht and private airplane.