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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

US seizes yacht docked in Spain and owned by Russian oligarch

The United States says Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is the owner of the mega-yacht Tango.

The United States government has confiscated a mega-yacht in Spain owned by an oligarch with close ties to the Russian president, in a bid to “seize and freeze” giant yachts and other valuable assets of the Russian elite. The first in the government’s sanctions enforcement initiative.

Spain’s Civil Guard and US federal agents landed on a yacht on Monday at Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

In a statement, the US Justice Department said the US had issued a confiscation warrant for the vessel, named Tango, alleging that it “could be seized based on violations of US bank fraud, money laundering and sanctions statutes”. Is.”

The Justice Department said documents related to the US investigation allege that Viktor Wexelberg purchased Tango in 2011 and used shell companies to hide his interest in the ship.

The department said Wexelberg, which was sanctioned by the US in 2018, used US banks to make Tango-related payments in violation of those sanctions.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said it was the first seizure by the US of a person’s assets sanctioned by Russia and “will not be the last”.

Garland, referring to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, said in the statement: “Together, along with our international partners, we will do everything possible to hold accountable anyone whose criminal acts offend the Russian government of its unjust enable the war to continue.”

Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police entering and leaving the boat on Monday morning.

A Spanish Civil Guard spokesman confirmed that officials from the Spanish police body and the FBI were searching the ship on Monday morning and said further details would be released later.

Tango, a 78-metre (255-foot) vessel, carries the flag of the Cook Islands. Superyachtfan.com, an exclusive website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational yachts, has valued it at $120m.

Vekselberg, a billionaire and close aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, which covers metals, mining, tech and other assets, according to US Treasury Department documents.

All of Wexelberg’s assets are frozen in the US and US companies are prohibited from doing business with him and his entities.

Tango’s seizure is the first under Kleptocapture, a US task force launched in early March to enforce sanctions on Russians affiliated with the leadership after the country’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Wexelberg has long had ties with the US, including a green card he once held and homes in New York and Connecticut. The Ukrainian-born businessman made his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.

Wexelberg was also questioned in US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and has worked closely with his American cousin, Andrew Intrater, who heads the New York investment management firm Columbus Nova. .

Adult film star Stormy Daniels’ attorney released a memo claiming $500,000 in money was sent via Columbus Nova to a shell company founded by former US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Michael Cohen.

Columbus Nova denied that Wexelberg played any role in his payment to Cohen.

Wexelberg has also been approved by authorities in the United Kingdom.

Monday’s capture is not the first time Spanish officials have been involved in the seizure of a Russian oligarch superyacht.

Officials there said they had seized a ship valued at more than $140 million and owned by the CEO of a state-owned defense group and a close Putin ally.

French and Italian authorities have also confiscated boats and properties belonging to Russian oligarchs.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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