Spain: seizure of the yacht of a Russian oligarch at the request of the United States

The yacht of a Russian oligarch, close to Vladimir Putin and targeted by American sanctions, was seized on Monday in the Balearic archipelago at the request of the United States, Spanish and American authorities announced on Monday.

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The operation was carried out in Palma de Mallorca by the Spanish Civil Guard and US federal agents from the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) under a rogatory commission from the United States, the Civil Guard said in a statement. communicated.

Called “Tango”, this 78-meter-long boat, estimated at more than 90 million euros, “is the property of Russian multimillionaire Viktor Vekselberg”, according to the Civil Guard.

This is the “first seizure of a property belonging to a sanctioned individual with strong links with the Russian regime carried out by our cell” of investigators “and it will not be the last”, warned the American Minister of Justice Merrick Garland in an official statement.


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AFP

Washington announced in early March the creation of a cell of investigators responsible for tracking down and seizing the luxury goods of the sanctioned oligarchs.

This operation “proves that the corrupt Russian oligarchs cannot escape sanctions to live a life of luxury while innocent Ukrainians suffer,” added his deputy Lisa Monaco.

In early March, US President Joe Biden threatened to seize the “ill-gotten” “yachts, luxury apartments, and private jets” of the “corrupt Russian oligarchs”.

According to the Civil Guard, the Spanish and American agents seized documents and computer devices in order to “confirm the identity of its real owner” while this yacht “is flying the flag of the Cook Islands and is registered in the name of a company based in the British Virgin Islands which is itself managed by companies from Panama”.

“If Mr. Vekselberg, very close to Vladimir Putin, is not targeted by the sanctions of the European Union, he is sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department, where an investigation has been opened against him for fraud tax, money laundering and use of forgery, precisely in connection with the concealment of the real ownership of this luxury yacht to avoid sanctions”, she continued.

Viktor Vekselberg is on a list of seven Russian oligarchs close to the Kremlin sanctioned in April 2018 by Washington, which accuses them in particular of having participated in Russia’s “attacks” against “Western democracies”.

Following these sanctions, the oligarch, domiciled in the canton of Zug in Switzerland, had reduced his stake in several Swiss industrial companies so that they could escape US sanctions.

It is the fourth yacht seized in Spain since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The other three were suspected of belonging to oligarchs targeted by EU sanctions.

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