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Russian billionaire imports luxury jet worth $110 million, evading sanctions

by Abbey Fenbert June 26, 2024 6:46 AM 2 min read
An Airbus A320neo passenger aircraft seen flying in the air from Athens International Airport in Athens, Greece, January 2024. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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A Russian oligarch imported a luxury Airbus A320neo plane, valued at $110 million, from the European Union in violation of sanctions, the Russian independent outlet the Moscow Times reported on June 26.

Sources in the aviation business identified sanctioned real estate mogul Zarakh Iliev as the likely owner of the jet.

Iliev is a Russian-Azerbaijani property developer and co-founder of the company Kievskaya Ploshchad. He is one of the wealthiest people in Russia, with a fortune worth over $3 billion.

The U.S., U.K., and Ukraine added Iliev to their sanctions lists following Russia's full-scale invasion.

One source told the Moscow Times that Iliev bought the luxury jet to replace his old Airbus A318CJ. The second provided confirmation that the owner of the A32neo is connected with the Kievskaya Ploshchad group of companies.

The plane was reportedly released from the factory in 2019 by Airbus Corporate Jets. It flew to Basel, Switzerland for painting and interior upgrades in January 2020.

A company registered in San Marino with an address in Malta purchased the aircraft and received the registration number T7-HHH. The plane then switched to Azerbaijani registration under a new number in 2022, and later to a Tajik registration number.

The aircraft obtained Russian registration on June 14, under the number RA-73889.  

The A320neo carries 25 passengers and can travel 11,100 kilometers. There are only 10 jets of its kind in the world.

Other Russian oligarchs have skirted sanctions to import luxury aircraft. The independent Russian media outlet Verstka reported in January 2024 that sanctioned businessman Oleg Deripaska purchased a business jet worth $36 million via Kazakhstan.

A previous investigation revealed that oligarch Alexander Tkachov evaded sanctions to purchase a $60 million airplane through Kyrgyzstan.

German media reported in summer 2022 that many sanctioned businessmen were able to disguise ownership of private jets through hidden offshore companies.

EU Council announces 14th round of sanctions against Russia
The new package adds 116 individuals and entities to the sanctions list, and adds a number of additional measures, including the prohibition for any EU facilities to be involved in the transshipment of Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) to any third-party countries.

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