The department said in court filings that the two aircraft, a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and Gulfstream G650ER executive jet, had been flown into Russian territory earlier this year in violation of US export controls set for US-made aircraft on March 2.
The department’s move targets one of the wealthiest Russian billionaires, who has already been forced to sell Chelsea Football Club in the wake of Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
It aims to incentivize people close to the Russian government “to distance themselves from the Kremlin and from the Russian state as it continues to ramp up the war,” said Andrew Adams, director of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force.
Both aircraft, which the Justice Department valued at $400 million, are believed to be out of reach of US officials — in Russia and, for the Boeing, possibly in Dubai, according to media reports.
“We will take active steps to pursue seizure, and we’ll keep an eye out to see if they move jurisdictions,” said Adams.
The seizure order outlined how Abramovich controls the two aircraft through a series of shell companies, centered on the Cyprus-registered Europe Settlement Trust.