By Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON -FBI agents on Tuesday raided homes in Washington and New York City linked to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin and to Paul Manafort, the onetime chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
The agents carried boxes out of a mansion in one of Washington’s wealthiest neighborhoods, with yellow “CRIMESCENE DO NOTENTER“ tape across the front yard and towed away a vehicle.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed the agency was conducting a court-authorized law enforcement activity at the home, which the Washington Post has previously reported was linked to the Russian oligarch.
The specific reason for sealing off and searching the Washington mansion was not immediately clear, and the FBI spokesperson did not provide details.
A representative for Deripaska said the home, as well as the one in New York, belong to relatives of the oligarch. Reuters could not immediately determine Deripaska’s whereabouts.
A spokesperson for the FBI‘s New York field office confirmed “law enforcement activity” at the home in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood but declined further comment.
Deripaska, 53, has been under U.S. sanctions since 2018. Washington imposed sanctions on him and other influential Russians because of their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Deripaska once employed Manafort, who was convicted in 2018 on tax evasion and bank fraud charges and was among the central figures scrutinized under investigations of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which Moscow denies.
Russia used Manafort and the WikiLeaks website to try to help Trump win that election, a Republican-led Senate committee said in its final review of the matter released last year. While still president last December, Trump pardoned Manafort.
The Senate report found Putin personally directed the Russian efforts to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak information damaging to Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The report also alleged Manafort collaborated with Russians, including Deripaska and a Russian intelligence officer before, during and after the election.
Deripaska owns part of Rusal via his stake in the giant aluminum producer’s parent company En+ Group. Washington previously dropped sanctions against both companies but kept them on Deripaska.
Rusal’s Moscow-listed shares extended losses after the report of the raid on the Washington home, falling 6%.
The representative for Deripaska, who declined to give their name because of company policy, confirmed the raid on both homes and said they belong to Deripaska’s family rather than the executive himself.
The representative said the searches were carried out on the basis of two court warrants related to the U.S. sanctions but provided no further details.