FBI agents searched two homes Tuesday tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is not allowed to do business or own property in the U.S. under sanctions imposed in 2018. The FBI said the raid on the mansion in Washington, D.C., was a "court-authorized law enforcement activity," while an FBI spokesman in New York said agents were carrying out a "law enforcement operation related to an ongoing investigation" at a three-story townhouse in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
The raids were part of an ongoing criminal investigation, The Washington Post reports. Larisa Belyaeva, a Deripaska spokeswoman, said the FBI was "carrying out a search of two houses — located in Washington and New York — belonging to Mr. Deripaska's relatives. The searches are being carried out on the basis of two court orders, connected to U.S. sanctions. The houses do not belong to Mr. Deripaska."
At the multimillion-dollar mansion near Washington's Embassy Row, "Deripaska was known to neighbors on the street as the owner of the home," had "directed major renovations, and has visited the house several times since 2010," the Post reports. In an unsuccessful lawsuit Deripaska filed to get the U.S. sanctions lifted, his lawyers said the Washington mansion is owned by a limited liability company incorporated in Delaware and owned by a trust in the British Virgin Islands that Deripaska established in 2006, The Associated Press reports. Property records also tie him to the Manhattan townhouse.
The Treasury Department said in 2018 that "Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering." Sanctions on Deripaska businesses were lifted later in 2018.
"What role, if any, Deripaska may have played in the 2016 U.S. presidential race remained one of the lingering mysteries of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe into Russian election interference," the Post reports. Deripaska, 54, is a former business associate of Paul Manafort, who ran former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign for months and was later pardoned by him for multiple financial crimes. In 2016 emails, "Manafort tried to offer 'private briefings' about the presidential race to Deripaska — apparently, as one of the emails put it, to 'get whole,'" the Post reports. Deripaska had sued Manfort in 2014 for mishandling a $19 million business investment.