Spanish authorities have seized the yacht of a Russian tycoon close to President Vladimir Putin in the Balearic Islands and are subject to sanctions from Washington, the Spanish Civil Guard said on Monday (4).
The operation in Palma de Mallorca was carried out by agents of the Civil Guard and US agencies of the FBI (equivalent to the Federal Police) and HSI (Internal Security Investigations), a US Disease Commission, Spanish police said in a statement as a result.
According to the Civil Guard, the 78-metre-long yacht named “Tango”, which is estimated to be worth 90 million euros, is “owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg”.
In early March, Washington announced the creation of an investigative unit tasked with tracking and confiscating luxury goods from sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
So the US President, Joe BidenThey promised to seize their “yachts, luxury apartments and private planes”.
“This is the first seizure of property belonging to an acknowledged person with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement issued by the Justice Department.
“Today’s action makes it clear that corrupt Russian oligarchs cannot escape sanctions to live a life of luxury while innocent Ukrainians suffer,” his deputy Lisa O’Monaco said in the same statement.
Spanish and American agents confiscated documents and computer equipment to “confirm the identity of its rightful owner”, as the vessel “has the flag of the Cook Islands and is registered in the name of a company based in the British Virgin Islands, which is, in turn, managed by companies in Panama”.
“All of this is after a complex financial and corporate conspiracy to conceal real real estate,” the statement said.
“Although so far Vekselberg, a person very close to Vladimir Putin, has not received sanctions from the European Union, he has received them by the US Treasury Department (OFAC).”
The statement continued, “He is being investigated for tax fraud, money laundering and false documentation relating to, well, concealment of actual ownership of this luxury yacht in an effort to avoid sanctions.”
Vekselberg is part of a list of seven Russian oligarchs close to the Kremlin who were targeted by sanctions by Washington in April 2018. The US government accused him of participating in Russian attacks on Western democracies.
Following the ban, the Swiss-based tycoon reduced his stake in several industrial companies.
It is the fourth boat seized in Spain since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. The other three are suspected to be billionaires linked to the Russian government and already under EU sanctions.