The US government has seized a megayacht owned by an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It is the first in the government’s initiative to enforce sanctions to “seize and freeze” huge boats and other expensive possessions belonging to the Russian elite.
The Spanish Civil Guard and US FBI officers disembarked on the yacht at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands.
Reporters saw police boarding and disembarking the boat Monday morning.
The seizure was confirmed by two people familiar with the matter.
A spokesman for the Spanish Civil Guard confirmed that officers from Spain’s police and FBI were at the marina searching the ship Monday morning and said more details would be released later.
The immobilized yacht is Tango, a 254-foot vessel that flies the Cook Islands flag, a Civil Guard source said, and is valued at according to superyachtfan.com, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive leisure boats around £91.5 million.
The yacht is among assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally of Mr Putin, who runs the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate that produces metals, mining, technology and others, according to US Treasury Department documents includes assets.
Mr. Vekselberg’s US assets will be frozen and US companies will be banned from doing business with him and his companies.
The move is the first time the US government has seized an oligarch’s yacht since Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen put together a task force called Repo – short for Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs – to deal with post-Russian sanctions enforce Ukraine End of February.
Mr. Vekselberg has longstanding ties to the US, including a green card he once held and homes in New York and Connecticut.
The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.
Mr Vekselberg was also questioned during an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and has worked closely with his American cousin Andrew Intrater, who runs New York investment management firm Columbus Nova.
Mr Vekselberg and Mr Intrater have been thrust into the spotlight during the election inquiry after a lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels released a memo claiming $500,000 (£382,000) in hush money was via Columbus Nova to one of Donald Trumps Staff based shell company run by attorney Michael Cohen.
Columbus Nova denied that Mr Vekselberg played any role in his payments to Mr Cohen.
Mr Vekselberg and Mr Intrater met with Mr Cohen at Trump Tower, one of several meetings between members of Mr Trump’s inner circle and senior Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition.
The 64-year-old mogul founded the Renova Group more than three decades ago. The group holds the largest stake in United Co. Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminum producer, among other investments.
Mr Vekselberg was first sanctioned by the US in 2018 and again in March, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Mr Vekselberg has also been sanctioned by authorities in the UK.
The White House said many allied countries, including Germany, Britain, France, Italy and others, are trying to collect and share intelligence against Russians that is eligible for sanctions.
President Joe Biden warned the oligarchs that the US and its European allies would “find and seize your yachts, your luxury homes, your private jets”.
He said, “We come for your ill-gotten gains.”
The US Department of Justice has also created a sanctions enforcement task force called KleptoCapture, which also aims to enforce US financial restrictions imposed on Russia and its billionaires, and works with the FBI, Treasury Department and other federal agencies together.
This task force will also target financial institutions and organizations that have helped oligarchs move money to evade sanctions.
Wednesday’s capture isn’t the first time Spanish authorities have been involved in the seizure of a Russian oligarch’s superyacht. Officials there said they had seized a ship worth about £107million belonging to the CEO of a state-owned defense conglomerate and a close ally of Mr Putin.
French authorities have also seized superyachts, including one believed to belong to Igor Sechin, an ally of Mr Putin who runs Russian oil giant Rosneft, which has operated in the US since Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014. sanctions list is in place.
Italy has also confiscated several yachts and other assets.
The Italian financial police quickly intervened and seized the superyacht “Lena” in the port of San Remo, which belonged to Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin; Alexei Mordashov’s 215-foot ‘Lady M’ in nearby Imperia, with six suites and an estimated £54 million; as well as villas in Tuscany and Como, government officials said.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/europe/us-seizes-yacht-in-mallorca-owned-by-oligarch-with-close-ties-to-vladimir-putin-41519015.html The US seizes a yacht in Mallorca owned by an oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin