Russia’s Abramovich turns to US law firm Kobre & Kim

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  • Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK, EU over the war in Ukraine
  • Kobre & Kim said it will work “to ensure the law is fairly applied” as it adds Abramovich as a client

(Reuters) – New York-based law firm Kobre & Kim has registered to represent Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in the United States, a firm spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Kobre & Kim had disclosed the work to the US Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which covers US political activity conducted on behalf of foreign entities. That disclosure is not yet publicly available and Reuters could not immediately obtain it.

The move appears to mark the first foreign-agent registration by US lawyers to work for a Russian client since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Many major American law firms have sought to drop Russian state-linked clients in court cases and other legal matters since the invasion.

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Abramovich, who has denied having close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, could not be reached for comment. The Russian national and billionaire has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom and the European Union since the start of the Ukraine war.

The United States has not sanctioned Abramovich, but a federal judge in Manhattan last month issued warrants to seize two of his luxury planes on the grounds that recent flights violated US export controls imposed after the Russian invasion.

Kobre & Kim declined to provide further details on its work for Abramovich. Co-founder Michael Kim said in a statement that the firm “is pleased to offer its assistance in matters of legal importance to ensure the law is fairly applied.” He cited Abramovich’s involvement in peace talks early on in the war and his humanitarian work.

A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Kobre & Kim, founded in 2003 by two former Manhattan federal prosecutors, focuses on international disputes and investigations and boasts on its website of its skill in contesting “cross-border attempts to freeze assets.” It has more than 100 lawyers based in the United States and abroad.

In 2010, the firm persuaded a federal appeals court in Washington to rule against the Justice Department’s efforts to temporarily freeze US-based assets of Cayman Islands-based company Tiger Eye Investments Ltd in connection with a Brazilian government investigation.

Kobre & Kim’s other registered foreign-agent clients have included the Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, popularly known as Jho Low, and the Chinese-controlled Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company Ltd.

Read more:

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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy hires US law firm for sanctions advice

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Jacqueline Thomsen

Thomson Reuters

Jacqueline Thomsen, based in Washington, DC, covers legal news related to policy, the courts and the legal profession. Follow her on Twitter at @jacq_thomsen and email her at jacqueline.thomsen@thomsonreuters.com.

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