Voluntary appearance for arrest
On the morning of May 11, 2023, in the city of Phoenix in the United States, Special Agent of the Bureau of Industry and Security (Export Control Service) Justin Kent met with Russian businessmen from Miami - Oleg Patsulya and Vasily Besedin. The meeting was held at the office of the border and customs service. Patsulya and Besedin came of their own free will - in the hope that Kent would unblock the delayed shipment of brakes for Boeing aircraft from the United States.
Special Agent Kent asked Patsulya and Besedin to “honestly” fill out a declaration that they were not going to bypass the bans on the export of goods to Russia and Belarus. The businessmen were explained that the “final consignee” is the real buyer who will use the goods for their intended purpose. Patsulya and Besedin assured the agent that the brakes would not go to Belarus and Russia.
Immediately after that, the businessmen were detained and filed a criminal complaint with the court. On May 16, a grand jury indicted them. The American authorities are sure that Patsulya and Besedin were going to circumvent the sanctions imposed against Russia, and also laundered money received as a result of smuggling.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 22 in the U.S. District Court for Arizona. On each of the charges, Patsula and Besedin face up to 20 years in prison.
Bypassing sanctions - from the US through Turkey and the Maldives
The United States banned the supply of aviation spare parts to Russia in February 2022, immediately after the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine. Since May, Patsulya has been sending letters to Russian airlines offering to buy aircraft parts. Thus, in a letter to the Rossiya airline, he claimed that his "group of companies" already had clients from Russia, including the Smartavia airline and the Ministry of Defense. “In light of the sanctions imposed on Russia, we are successfully coping with new challenges,” Patsulya wrote in an email that the US authorities received through a court order for access to correspondence.
Patsulya explained the inflated prices for spare parts with sanctions. Special Agent Kent quotes his letter from Pobeda Airlines: “We offer our prices together with delivery directly to your warehouses in Moscow. Given the sanctions against Russia, the cost of spare parts, logistics, delivery, as well as delivery times have increased. In many cases, a certificate of the final consignee is required, and we solve all these issues.”
Patsulya corresponded with Russian airlines on behalf of a Turkish company. In the meantime, Besedin, on behalf of Florida's MIC P&I, requested supplies of spare parts from American companies, including sanctioned aircraft brakes. The extra charge for circumventing sanctions and shipping exceeded $30,000, which is almost half the price of an American supplier.
In August 2022, Besedin found a supplier in Arizona of seven sets of brakes for $70,000. Patsulya agreed with the Smartavia airline that he would supply assemblies at $103,000 apiece. The Russian company transferred money to the Turkish company Patsuli, which transferred money to the account of the American MIC P&I, whose office is located in Patsuli's house. The businessmen assured the supplier that the goods would not go to Russia or Belarus and that they were delivering them to the Turkish airline. However, the Arizona supplier did not respond to their inquiries for more than a month. As a result, the company did not install the brakes, and Smartavia was left with nothing.
Trying to procure and deliver brakes already paid for in Russia, Besedin and Patsulya found a company already outside the United States, which was able to order several sets of brakes at a price much higher than what Smartavia had already paid. In the documents, Besedin and Patsulya indicated that the assemblies would go to the Maldives and would not be resold to any other companies. However, the American export control became interested in the delivery, and the brakes never went to the Maldives.
Meanwhile, a batch of brakes marked "urgently" from businessmen was requested by the Pobeda airline. For the same assembly, she was ready to pay $ 165 thousand. Pobeda transferred almost $750,000 to the accounts of the Turkish company Patsuli, but never received a brake: the businessmen again barely found a supplier in the United States who agreed to sell them the assemblies, and then the Bureau of Industry and Security delayed the delivery.
Personal enrichment without brakes
Patsulya and Besedin are accused not only of circumventing sanctions, but also of legalizing the proceeds from these actions. Despite the fact that it was not possible to supply Russian carriers with spare parts worth several hundred thousand dollars, from May 31, 2022 to January 31, 2023, they received $ 2.75 million from Turkey for "brakes". The funds were withdrawn to the personal accounts of Patsuli and Besedin, from where they withdrew large amounts of cash. It is known that Patsulya managed to spend some of this money on a BMW 740i and a Sea Ray Sundancer yacht.
According to US prosecutors, Patsuli's total proceeds from sanctioned trade amounted to $4.5 million. Such a sum of money would have to be confiscated from him if found guilty; the yacht and BMW will also have to be taken away from him.
In Russia, Oleg Patsulya has been bankrupt since 2018. The amount of his debt is 568 million rubles. He did not have any property - at the auction they sold only a worthless share in Formulastroyagro LLC. Patsulya was also the general director and co-owner of Glavspetsstroy LLC. This company is also bankrupt, as part of the bankruptcy case, 240 million rubles were recovered from Patsuli.
It is known that Patsulya owns two condominiums in Florida. He is also listed as the founder of a number of firms that were used to smuggle aircraft parts or own real estate.