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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Smith: U.S. continues to combat those "helping Russia advance its hostile and illegal activities"

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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a warrant on Aug. 31 to seize a $45 million aircraft owned by a Russian multinational oil and gas corporation.

The warrant follows an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations Houston, FBI Houston, and the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security into alleged violations of sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, according to a Sept. 1 Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release.

“By aggressively pursuing the seizure of these assets, we have sent a resounding message to sanctions violators and third-party facilitators around the globe that we are committed to targeting any individual or entity that seeks to blatantly skirt the sanctions, export controls and license requirements imposed by the United States in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine,” HSI Houston Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson said in the release. “Using our broad investigative and enforcement authorities and global reach, HSI will continue to work alongside our federal partners to protect U.S. national security interests and inflict maximum disruptive effects against anyone who violates these sanctions in an effort to support the Russian government.”

The sanctions against Russia expanded prohibitions on the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of U.S.-manufactured aircraft to, or within, Russia without a valid license or license exception, according to the release. The Boeing aircraft listed in the warrant, owned by LUKOIL, flew into and out of Russia in violation of the aforementioned sanctions.

“The FBI will remain focused and faithful to our responsibility to protect our U.S. national security and foreign policy interests,” FBI Houston Field Office Special Agent in Charge James Smith said in the release. “We’ll continue to go after individuals who insist on helping Russia advance its hostile and illegal activities, and we’ll continue to seize their valuable possessions, wherever they may be. We thank Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Commerce for their partnership in this case.”

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