Legal

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has hired lawyers at a cost of up to $1,500 an hour, days after an American ordered the confiscation of his private jets.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Roman Abramovich had hired a US law firm that might be fighting a US warrant to seize his private jet planes.

New York-based law firm Kobre & Kim represents the Russian billionaire, according to a filingTuesday under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires companies to register with the Department of Justice when performing political action on behalf of foreign entities. Although Abramovich was punished by the European Union and the United Kingdom, Abramovich was not punished by the United States.

The company said in the filing that it was contracted to “provide advice regarding judicial and administrative procedures, to also include communication with other government agencies.” It added that it would also provide “advice and guidance on government relations strategy.”

The newspaper noted that the appointment came shortly after the United States obtained arrest warrants for the seizure of two private planes for Abramovich on June 6. A copy of Kobri and Kim’s agreement with Abramovich attached to the file is dated June 15.

The European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Russian businessman Abramovich, who made billions buying state-owned energy company Sibneft in 1995 and then selling it a decade later, after Russia invaded Ukraine. EU officials said he has “privileged access to the president, and has maintained very good relations with him”, while the UK described Abramovich as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” who has “a close relationship for decades” with Putin.

Abramovich has repeatedly denied having close personal ties with the Russian president, and has reportedly traveled through Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Israel and Turkey to meet with officials related to his role in the Ukraine-Russia peace talks.

The Justice Department said in court filings that two of Abramovich’s planes violated export restrictions by flying to Russia in March.

The Justice Department said his Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flew from Dubai to Russia and returned the same day in early March. In the middle of that month, his Gulfstream G650ER flew from Istanbul, Turkey to Moscow, then to Tel Aviv, Israel, back to Istanbul, and back again to Moscow, according to the Justice Ministry. Turkey, Israel and Russia are among the destinations where he is believed to have met officials and attended peace talks.

The Justice Department said the planes were worth about $410 million.

In their agreement with Abramovich, Kobre & Kim said that although her attorneys charge up to $1,900 an hour for highly specialized work, “our attorneys we currently expect on this may work from $875 to $1,450 an hour.”

“Kobre & Kim is pleased to offer their assistance on matters of legal importance to ensure that the law is applied fairly,” a company spokesperson said. “This principle is particularly important because our client is recognized for its participation in peace negotiations as well as humanitarian efforts, and due process and fairness regarding any legal or administrative matters necessary to ensure that its efforts are not impeded.”

“Mr. Abramovich is not a government official and has not held any political office in Russia for more than a decade, with his last official government assignment expiring in 2008,” the company said in the Foreign Agents Registration Act request.

Smith

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