- Roman Abramovich hired a US law firm shortly after the US got a warrant to seize his private jets.
- The DOJ said the two jets, collectively worth $410 million, violated export controls by flying to Russia.
- Kobre & Kim said it expected lawyers to charge between $875 and $1,450 an hour for their services.
New York-based law firm Kobre & Kim is representing the Russian billionaire, according to a filing it made Tuesday under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires companies to register with the Department of Justice when doing political work on behalf of foreign entities. Though he has been sanctioned by the EU and UK, Abramovich hasn't been sanctioned by the US.
The company said in the filing that it had been hired for "the provision of advice in relation to judicial and administrative proceedings, to also include interface with other government agencies." It added that it would also "provide counsel and guidance on government relations strategy."
The Journal pointed out that the appointment came shortly after the US obtained warrants to seize two of Abramovich's private jets on June 6. A copy of Kobre & Kim's agreement with Abramovich attached to the filing was dated June 15.
Russian businessman Abramovich, who made billions from buying state-owned energy company Sibneft in 1995 and then selling it a decade later, was sanctioned by the EU and UK in March after Russia invaded Ukraine. EU officials said he had "privileged access to the president, and has maintained very good relations with him," while the UK described Abramovich as a "pro-Kremlin oligarch" who has had "a close relationship for decades" with Putin.
Abramovich has repeatedly denied having close personal ties with the Russian president, and has reportedly traveled across Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Israel, and Turkey to meet with officials related to his role in peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.
The Department of Justice said in court filings that two of Abramovich's jets had violated export controls by flying to Russia in March.
His Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flew from Dubai to Russia and back on the same day in early March, the DOJ said. In the middle of that month, his Gulfstream G650ER jet flew from Istanbul, Turkey to Moscow, then to Tel Aviv, Israel, back to Istanbul, and back again to Moscow, according to the DOJ. Turkey, Israel, and Russia are among the destinations he is believed to have met officials and attended peace talks in.
Between them, the aircraft are worth around $410 million, the DOJ said.
In its agreement with Abramovich, Kobre & Kim said that although its lawyers charged up to $1,900 per hour for highly-specialized work, "our lawyers who we currently expect may work on this matter charge US $875 to US $1,450 per hour."
"Kobre & Kim is pleased to offer its assistance in matters of legal importance to ensure the law is fairly applied," a spokesperson for the firm told The Journal. The company did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, made outside of regular working hours.
"Mr Abramovich is acting as a mediator in the peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, with the goal of finding a diplomatic solution to end the armed conflict," the firm said in the FARA filing.
"Mr Abramovich is not a Government official and he has not held any political office in Russia for more than a decade, with his last official government duty terminating in 2008."