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NJ woman arrested for helping Russian billionaire circumvent US sanctions, have baby on American soil

FBI agents. (Melanie Rodgers Cox/US Air Force)

Federal authorities arrested and charged a New Jersey woman on Thursday with helping a Russian billionaire circumvent U.S. sanctions on his businesses and have a baby on American soil.

Olga Shriki covertly kept operations running smoothly at Putin associate and aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska’s private investment firm after the Treasury Department hit him with economic sanctions in 2018.

The allegations were contained in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan Federal Court charging the Russian billionaire and three associates with multiple federal offenses.

Deripaska, 52, who founded the aluminum empire Rusal, was sanctioned after Russia annexed Crimea in Ukraine.

To get around the stringent sanctions, he enlisted Shriki, 42, to maintain and sell his luxury U.S. properties, obscuring his ownership through a series of shell companies, according to the unsealed indictment. That included a $3 million recording studio in California, whose sale Shriki facilitated for Deripaska in 2019, funneling the proceeds back to Russia via his bogus companies.

“Despite his cozy ties with the Kremlin and his vast wealth acquired through ties to a corrupt regime, Deripaska did all he could to lead a life in a stable, free, democratic society — even if that meant lying and evading U.S. sanctions,” said Andrew Adams, the head of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force.

“The hypocrisy in seeking comfort and citizenship in the United States, while enjoying the fruits of a ruthless, anti-democratic regime, is striking.”

Shriki also schmoozed with Deripaska’s business contacts, delivering Easter gifts to an unnamed television host on his behalf and flowers to a former member of Canadian Parliament.

She also brought a bouquet in 2020 to Deripaska’s girlfriend, Ekaterina Lobanova Voronina, who traveled to the U.S. on a 10-day tourist visa and stayed for six months to have his baby, the feds said.

Shriki, a naturalized U.S. citizen, facilitated about $300,000 worth of payments to cover expenses caused by the birth of Deripaska’s baby, including housing and childcare. When the child was born, its last name, a version of Deripaska’s, was deliberately misspelled to throw off the scent.

Shriki was released on a $2 million bond partially secured by her New Jersey residence after a hearing in Manhattan on Thursday. Her lawyer could not be reached for comment.

A federal law enforcement source said Deripaska, Voronina, and Natalya Mikhaylovna Bardakova, another of Derispaska’s codefendants, were not in custody and their whereabouts were not known. Attempts to reach their lawyers were unsuccessful.

Shriki, Deripaska, and Bardakova, were charged with conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions. Shriki was also accused of the destruction of records.

Voronina was charged with making false statements to federal agents. She traveled to the U.S. again this year to have Deripaska’s second American child, prosecutors said, but this time, was denied entry and sent back to Istanbul, where she had a layover on her trip from Russia.


© 2022 New York Daily News

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