A Russian oligarch's girlfriend was charged with lying to the feds while trying to enter the US to give birth to their baby

Oleg Deripaska
Oleg Deripaska distrusted the safety of the Russian hospital system for his children, the Justice Department said.NurPhoto/Getty Images
  • A top DOJ official said the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska lied to get the "American way of life."

  • The feds arrested a New Jersey resident on charges she helped Deripaska evade sanctions.

  • Deripaska was sanctioned in response to his support for Russia's election interference in 2016.

In 2018, federal authorities blacklisted the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in response to his support for the Kremlin-backed campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

But when his girlfriend was expecting their first child, in 2020, his loyalty to Russia seemed to find its limits. Despite his support for the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin, the billionaire oligarch spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their child born in the United States, benefit from the healthcare system, and receive birthright citizenship, according to court records.

In an indictment unsealed Thursday, federal prosecutors detailed the circumstances around the birth of Deripaska's children with his girlfriend, Ekaterina Olegovna Voronina,  as the Justice Department charged the couple and two others in connection with an alleged scheme to evade sanctions.

A grand jury indicted Deripaska on charges he conspired with two women — Olga Shriki and Natalia Mikhaylovna Bardakova — to circumvent sanctions and make transactions in the United States for his personal benefit. Prosecutors alleged that Deripaska used a web of shell companies to obscure his ownership of US properties as part of a yearslong scheme to evade sanctions.

According to the indictment, Shriki and Bardakova helped arrange for Voronina's travel to the United States in 2020 and again in 2022 for the birth of her second child with Deripaska. On that second trip, after arriving on a private jet funded by Deripaska, Voronina lied to the Department of Homeland Security to conceal her ties to the Russian oligarch.

Voronina was refused entry, according to the indictment, which charges her with making false statements to federal agents.

Announcing the indictment Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Deripaska sought to evade sanctions "through lies and deceit to cash in on and benefit from the American way of life.

"But shell companies and webs of lies will not shield Deripaska and his cronies from American law enforcement, nor will they protect others who support the Putin regime. The Department of Justice remains dedicated to the global fight against those who aid and abet the Russian war machine."

In court papers, prosecutors said Deripaska used one corporate entity — Gracetown Inc. — to illegally make use of the US financial system and maintain three luxury properties in the United States. And he employed Shriki and Bardakova to help him tap into the US financial system, according to the indictment.

For instance, "in or about 2019," Shriki facilitated the sale of a music studio in California that Deripaska owned through shell companies, prosecutors said in the indictment. The studio sold for more than $3 million, and Shriki later sought to expatriate the proceeds through a shell company to a Russia-based account tied to another Deripaska-owned company, prosecutors said.

Shriki, a 42-year-old New Jersey resident and naturalized US citizen, was arrested Thursday morning.

Bardakova, a Russian citizen, directed Shriki to engage in the alleged transactions on Deripaska's behalf, prosecutors said. Between May 2018 and 2020, prosecutors said, Bardakova instructed Shriki to arrange for the delivery of flowers and gifts to Deripaska's social contacts in the United States and Canada.

"The deliveries included, among others, two Easter gift deliveries to a U.S. television host, two flower deliveries to a then-former Canadian Parliament member, and two flower deliveries in 2020 ... while she was in the United States to give birth to Deripaska' s child," the indictment states.

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