Graham Bonham-Carter | US arrest Brit for moving sanctioned Russian oligarch’s artwork

A British businessman has been arrested by American authorities for allegedly trying to transport artwork owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch out of the US.

graham bonham carter Oleg Deripaska

Bonham-Carter is accused of aiding Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire, move his artwork out of America, as well as making payments to maintain Deripaska’s US properties.

In a three-count criminal indictment, Bonham-Carter is charged with conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, wire fraud and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The indictment also requests extradition to the United States. Each of the charges carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

Bonham-Carter appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this month. He was released on conditional bail. The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said: “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 Deripaska’s benefit.”

Vladimir Putin Oleg Deripaska Bonham-Carter

Vladimir Putin and Oleg Deripaska, at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, China

US Sanctions on Mr Deripaska date back to 2018, and are due to his alleged ties to the Russian government.

Prosecutors now accuse Bonham-Carter of transferring over $1m to fund the upkeep of a trio of American properties owned by Deripaska, as well attempting to move artwork from a New York auction house to London, “through misrepresentations concealing Deripaska’s ownership of the artwork.” The identity of the auction house has not been revealed.

Due to increased scrutiny and reach from the US’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, auction houses have to be on higher alert. 

In a statement when “queried about sanctions”, Sotheby’s said: “Sotheby’s conducts business in strict compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including global sanctions, which we are absolutely rigorous about following, and monitor closely for any updates to the lists. Checking our clients against sanctions lists is just one step in a comprehensive series of checks undertaken by Sotheby’s to ensure the company achieves the highest possible global standard.”

All of Mr Deripaska’s assets in the UK have been frozen. Two of Bonham-Carter’s accounts, believed to be used to launder money for Deripaska, have also been frozen.

Graham Bonham-Carter is the second cousin of British actress Helena Bonham-Carter.

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