Court clears way for US to seize $45M airplane owned by Russian energy giant

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday announced the U.S. has obtained a warrant to seize a $45 million aircraft owned by a Moscow-based oil and gas corporation. 

A U.S. District Court in Texas authorized the seizure of a Boeing 737-EM airplane, which the DOJ said violated Department of Commerce sanctions against Russia when it flew in and out of the country.  

The plane, valued at $45 million, is owned by the Russian multinational energy corporation PJSC Lukoil, according to the DOJ release.  

The DOJ said the plane last entered the U.S. in 2019 when it brought Lukoil’s then-president and CEO, Russian oligarch Vagit Alekperov, to Houston.

The aircraft is now believed to be in Russia, which has been the target of a number of sweeping Commerce Department sanctions in response to the country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine. 

The sanctions include “expanded prohibitions on the export, reexport or in-country transfer of U.S.-manufactured aircraft to or within Russia without a valid license of license exception,” per the DOJ. 

“Today’s actions to enforce the powerful export restrictions placed on Russia are our latest coordinated measures that let Vladimir Putin and his allies know that we are watching,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod in the release.  

Axelrod noted that the department “continues to vigorously enforce the export laws of the United States and stand with the people of Ukraine against Putin’s war of aggression.” 

The director of the DOJ’s KleptoCapture, an interagency task force charged with enforcing the sanctions against Russia, is coordinating the seizure.

Tags Department of Commerce Department of Justice KleptoCapture Matthew Axelrod PJSC LUKOIL russia Russia sanctions Texas trade United States Vagit Alekperov Vladimir Putin

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