US working with Spain seizes $90m Russian superyacht

Tango was linked to Viktor Vekselberg and seized for money laundering and fraud (Feadship file photo)

Posted on April 4, 2022 at 2:43 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive

Working with Spanish law enforcement and the Spanish courts, the United States today seized its first yacht owned by a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although part of efforts to increase pressure on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, the 255ft luxury yacht is also linked to an ongoing US case against Viktor Vekselberg, with courts approving the confiscation of the yacht due to violations of US laws. bank fraud, money laundering and sanctions laws.

“Today marks the first seizure by our task force of property belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It won’t be the last,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “Together with our international partners, we will do everything we can to hold accountable any individual whose criminal acts allow the Russian government to continue its unjust war.”

The named yacht Tango was built in 2011 by Dutch group Feadship which has won numerous awards for its unique and contemporary design, the exterior being a combination of a white hull with a gray and blue metallic superstructure. Despite TangoFor her sheer size, the yard reports that her four engines allow the yacht to reach 22 knots. Accommodation for twelve guests is located on the main deck, while there is a private owners’ deck with its own aft seating area, full-beam cabin and separate office. A counter-current swimming pool, a massage/beauty salon and an open-air cinema on the sun terrace are among the facilities. Tango also has room for 20 crew members.

The United States maintains that Vekselberg is a prominent Russian businessman with an estimated net worth of more than $6 billion as the leader of the Renova group of companies operating in Russia’s energy sector and with investments in technology. The United States first designated him in April 2018 and then sanctioned him in March 2022, including blocking his luxury private Airbus A319-115 jet and the yacht worth $90 million each. .

According to the court filing, the US investigation alleges that Vekselberg purchased the Tango in 2011 but uses shell companies to obscure his interest in the Tango to avoid bank monitoring of US dollar transactions related to the ship. The warrant alleges that Vekselberg continued to make US dollar payments through US banks for the support and maintenance of the Tango and its owners, including payment for a December 2020 stay at a luxury water villa resort in the Maldives and yacht mooring fees. The yacht is currently moored in a shipyard in Palma de Mallorca.

Spanish and American agents seized documents and computers from the yacht (Guardia Civil)

Together with Spain’s Guardia Civil, the US request was forwarded to a Spanish prosecutor, who obtained a freezing order from a Spanish court. The order was carried out by Spain’s Guardia Civil, Spain’s national police, today April 4.

Spanish authorities as well as members of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations were seen on board the yacht. Spanish police reported during the search of the ship. Various documents and computer devices were seized and will be analyzed to, among other things, confirm the identity of the true owner of the vessel. They pointed out that the yacht flies the Cook Islands flag but is registered to a company based in the British Virgin Islands, which in turn is managed by companies in Panama.

Meanwhile, in separate seizure warrants obtained from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the United States targeted approximately $625,000 associated with sanctioned parties held at nine U.S. financial institutions. These seizures are based on sanctions violations by several specially designated Russian nationals.

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