U.S. federal prosecutors have charged Russian, Italian, and U.S. companies and several employees for allegedly attempting to evade U.S. sanctions that were imposed after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
A Justice Department statement on December 3 states that the individuals and companies named in the indictment disguised the destination of a U.S.-made power turbine.
Evidence in the case, according to the Justice Department, alleges that an unnamed Russian government-controlled business planned to use the turbine on a Russian Arctic deep-sea drilling platform.
U.S. sanctions forbid the provision of goods related to exploration or production for Russian deep-water, Arctic offshore oil projects.
Based on the alleged scheme, the unidentified Russian company hired Oleg Nikitin and his Russian-based company KS Engineering (KSE) to buy the turbine for $17.3 million.
He, his company, and a KSE employee were subsequently charged with violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Export Control Reform Act (IEEPA/ECRA) and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
In turn, the three sought to evade U.S. sanctions by contracting Gabriele Villone, his Italian-based company GVA International Oil and Gas Services, and employee Bruno Caparini to purchase the turbine on their behalf.
These three, in turn, then hired Dali Bagrou and his U.S.-based company World Mining and Oil Supply to acquire the turbine from an unidentified U.S.-based manufacturer and ship it.
Villone, Villone’s company, and Caparini were charged with violating and conspiring to violate IEEPA/ECRA.
“Additionally, the aforementioned defendants, Dali Bagrou, and Bagrou’s U.S.-based company World Mining and Oil Supply (WMO) are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering,” the statement said.
Nikitin, Villone, and Bagrou were arrested in Savannah, Georgia.