A mansion in Washington, D.C., reportedly belonging to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska is being raided by the FBI, the agency confirmed Tuesday.
Billionaire Deripaska is known for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as his prior business relationships with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and British ex-spy Christopher Steele.
“We are conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity at a location in Washington, D.C.,” an FBI spokesperson told the Washington Examiner, providing the address of a $15 million home believed to be owned by Deripaska.
Any charges against Deripaska were not immediately clear.
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Deripaska was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018, which at the same said he had been investigated for money laundering, bribery, and a host of other crimes.
The oligarch filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department in federal court in 2019, saying that he “became the latest victim of this country’s political infighting and ongoing reaction to Russia’s purported interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.” United States District Court Judge Amit Mehta shot down Deripaska’s lawsuit in June.
“The FBI really is searching houses that are owned by Deripaska’s family members,” a Deripaska spokeswoman said on Monday. “This is done based on two court orders linked to American sanctions. Those houses are in New York and Washington, but Oleg Deripaska doesn’t own them.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report last year found Deripaska “conducts influence operations, frequently in countries where he has a significant economic interest,” and “the Russian government coordinates with and directs Deripaska on many of his influence operations.”
The committee concluded last year that Manafort posed a “grave counterintelligence threat” as former President Donald Trump's campaign manager because of his contacts with Russians connected to Kremlin intelligence.
Manafort, a GOP lobbyist who also spent years working overseas in places such as Ukraine, was the chairman of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign until he resigned in August 2016 and was convicted of a host of crimes arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Senate report was unsparing in its assessment of Manafort, especially in regards to his close relationships with Deripaska and Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, about whom special counsel Robert Mueller said “the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence” and whom the senators concluded “is a Russian intelligence officer.”
The senators said Manafort’s connections to Russia and Ukraine began in late 2004 when he started working for Deripaska, and during the 2016 election, Manafort “directly and indirectly communicated with Kilimnik, Deripaska, and the pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine,” and “on numerous occasions, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik."
Deripaska sued Manafort in 2018, alleging he and his business partner, Rick Gates, “vanished more than $18.9 million” of his money.
The Putin-linked billionaire is mentioned 64 times in Mueller’s report, and the U.S. intelligence community reportedly believes the Kremlin relied on him to spread disinformation casting doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, worked for Deripaska in early 2016, helping recover millions of dollars the Russian oligarch claimed Manafort had stolen from him.
The Senate report revealed Steele started working on behalf of Deripaska through the Russian oligarch’s lawyers beginning as early as 2012 through part of 2017. The investigation found “multiple links between Steele and Deripaska” and “indications that Deripaska had early knowledge of Steele's work” just a few months before he began compiling his now-discredited dossier. Steele’s continued relationship with Deripaska “provid[ed] a potential direct channel for Russian influence on the dossier," the report read.
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Special counsel John Durham is examining the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation.