Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos on Friday ordered an investigation into whether two Cyprus-registered planes owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich were linked to illegal activity.

It surfaced the previous day that the two planes, a Gulfstream and a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner collectively worth $410 million, were registered through a number of shell companies, two of which are based in Cyprus.

The shell companies registered in Cyprus are Finservus (Trustees) Limited and an associated one called International Trust (Trust), “The Europa Settlement Trust”. There are three more companies, based in Jersey and the British Virgin Islands.

“Officials have been instructed to investigate the background of the aircraft in relation to Cyprus,” Karousos told Phileleftheros, adding that he has been diligent about maintaining a register regarding the ownership status of aircraft with links to Cyprus.

“In general I ask for due diligence for aircraft registered in Cyprus, especially when their owners come from third countries, in order to ascertain any links to money laundering and related crimes, but also for my own information,” he said.

The minister added that checks are performed even on Cypriot-owned aircraft with foreign crews.

Earlier in the week, Reuters reported that US authorities charged Abramovich with exporting the US-made planes to Russia without a license, which was required due to the sanctions imposed on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

The US Commerce Department said that the Gulfstream flew from Istanbul to Moscow on March 12, left the following day for Tel Aviv and flew from Istanbul to Moscow again on March 15. The Boeing flew from Dubai to Moscow on March 4.

According to the Commerce Department, in February the Russian businessman reorganised the ownership structure to make his children the beneficiaries of a trust that ultimately owns both planes, but continued to own and control them when they flew to Moscow the next month.

Because the planes were made in the US and the flights took place after export restrictions went into effect, Abramovich could be fined up to $328,121 per unlicensed flight, or nearly $1 million for the three flights, among other penalties.