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Firm Associated with ‘Putin’s Favorite Industrialist’ Caught Up in Mysterious, Possibly Mueller-Linked Investigation


Federal authorities are investigating a company linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in connection with suspected “money laundering, tax offenses and fraud offenses,” according to a Friday Bloomberg report. Deripaska has deep ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, having previously been described as “Putin’s favorite industrialist.”

A possible “offshoot” of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, the probe has reportedly sought evidence from at least 18 persons and business entities, including Deripaska and his former real estate firm Terra Services, Ltd., which he controlled until 2018.

The previously unreported U.S. facet of the investigation was only revealed after Terra filed a legal challenge to a search warrant executed in Britain late last year, which resulted in more than 25,000 electronic documents being seized from a storage unit owned by the firm. Terra is seeking to prevent those documents from being turned over to U.S. authorities. In the filing, the firm claimed that the raid was prompted by a request “in connection with the special counsel investigation being conducted in the U.S.” Additionally, according to court documents obtained by Bloomberg, the judge who authorized the UK search warrant noted at the time that it could produce evidence relevant to the “ongoing U.S. investigation into a number of criminal offenses committed by two U.S. subjects, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.”

While portions of the Mueller report pertaining to Manafort and Gates remain redacted, it was publicly reported that Manafort owed Deripaska between $10-20 million from a previous business deal. Manafort, the now-incarcerated then-chairman of the Trump campaign, allegedly tried to square his debt by providing Deripaska with insider updates and internal polling data.

U.S. persons are currently prohibited from doing any business with Deripaska, who remains under sanction after the Russian annexation of Crimea. But Bloomberg was unable to obtain a copy of the U.S. request to search Terra or the actual search warrant, leaving the scope of the investigation shrouded in mystery. Terra’s attorney Monica Carss-Frisk reportedly said just that during the most recent legal proceeding, proclaiming that there was a “degree of confusion as to what exactly is being investigated.” The U.K. National Crime Agency and the Department of Justice have not commented.

[Image via KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.