Kobre & Kim will bill Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich up to $1,450 an hour as it helps him craft a government relations strategy in response to scrutiny from U.S. agencies, according to a U.S. Justice Department filing.
The filing covers the rates for firm co-founder Michael Kim, a former white-collar prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, and attorney Michael Sherwin, most recently the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. The attorneys typically charge between $875 and $1,450 per hour, according to the filing, but Kobre & Kim’s rates can reach up to $1,900 per hour.
The firm will “provide counsel and guidance on government relations strategy with a focus on information related to various ongoing and prospective administrative and judicial legal proceedings,” according to the filing issued under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The Justice Department filed warrants last month to seize two of Abramovich’s private planes for alleged export control violations as part of DOJ’s broader effort to aggressively enforce sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
“Kobre & Kim is pleased to offer its assistance in matters of legal importance to ensure the law is fairly applied,” Kim said in a statement. “This principle is especially important as our client is recognized for his involvement in the peace negotiations as well as humanitarian efforts, a due and fair process in relation to any legal or administrative matters is essential to ensure his efforts are not hindered.”
Both Kim and Sherwin have extensive experience working on international financial investigations involving asset forfeiture and other issues.
Kim focuses his practice on government investigations, including asset forfeiture and confiscation. Sherwin, most well known for supervising the early phase of the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, worked for years as a career prosecutor in Miami focused on money-laundering, drug-trafficking and other cases with ties to Central and South America.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report on Kobre & Kim’s involvement with Abramovich.
The move by a prominent New York-based law firm to represent one of the most well-known Russian oligarchs represents a stark departure from how major firms have handled Russian clients since the country invaded Ukraine in February.
The invasion touched off an exodus of Big Law from Russia and led many major firms to sever all ties with clients connected to the Russian government, particularly those at risk of sanctions from the U.S. and other western governments. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom dropped Abramovich as a client hours before the U.K. government imposed sanctions in March as part of a move to isolate Russia from the international community.
Abramovich, who has long had purported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is well known in the West as the former owner of the London soccer team Chelsea F.C., which he was forced to sell after being sanctioned in the U.K.
The FARA filing portrayed Abramovich as “mediator in the peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine” who is acting in an “independent capacity” approved by both nations. The filing also noted Abramovich’s history of philanthropy.
Abramovich has not been sanctioned by the United States, but the Justice Department moved last month to seize two private planes belonging to Abramovich that U.S. authorities said violated export control restrictions when they were flown to Russia following the invasion.