Superyacht owned by oligarch with close ties to Putin seized by U.S.

0


The U.S. government seized a mega yacht in Spain owned by an oligarch with close ties to the Russian president on Monday, the first in the government’s sanctions enforcement initiative to “seize and freeze” giant boats and other pricey assets of Russian elites.

Spain’s Civil Guard and U.S. federal agents descended on the yacht at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police going in and out of the boat on Monday morning.

A Civil Guard source told The Associated Press that the immobilized yacht was the Tango, a 78-metre vessel that carries a Cook Islands flag and that Superyachtfan.com, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational boats, set its value at $120 million US.

Superyachtfan.com, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational boats, values Tango at $120 million US. (Francisco Ubilla/The Associated Press)

The yacht is among the assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets, according to U.S. Treasury Department documents. All of Vekselberg’s assets in the U.S. are frozen and U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business with him and his entities.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed the seizure in a statement released by the Justice Department, which estimated the value of the vessel as “at least $90 million.”

“Today marks our task force’s first seizure of an asset belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” said Garland. “Together, with our international partners, we will do everything possible to hold accountable any individual whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war.”

Vekselberg familiar to U.S. officials

Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have assembled a task force known as REPO — short for Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs — as an effort to enforce sanctions after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Vekselberg has long had ties to the U.S. including a green card he once held and homes in New York and Connecticut. The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.

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

Vekselberg and Intrater were thrust into the spotlight in the Mueller probe after the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels released a memo that claimed $500,000 US in hush money was routed through Columbus Nova to a shell company set up by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Columbus Nova denied that Vekselberg played any role in its payments to Cohen.

A U.S. federal agent, centre, and two Civil Guards board the yacht. (Francisco Ubilla/The Associated Press)

Vekselberg and Intrater met with Cohen at Trump Tower, one of several meetings between members of Trump’s inner circle and high-level Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition.

The 64-year-old mogul founded Renova Group more than three decades ago. The group holds the largest stake in United Co. Rusal, Russia’s biggest aluminum producer, among other investments.

Vekselberg was first sanctioned by the U.S. in 2018, and again in March of this year, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began. Vekselberg has also been sanctioned by authorities in the United Kingdom.

The U.S. Justice Department has also launched a sanctions enforcement task force known as KleptoCapture, which also aims to enforce financial restrictions in the U.S. imposed on Russia and its billionaires, working with the FBI, Treasury and other federal agencies. That task force will also target financial institutions and entities that have helped oligarchs move money to dodge sanctions.

“Today’s seizure of Viktor Vekselberg’s yacht, the Tango, in Spain is the result of an unprecedented multinational effort to enforce U.S. sanctions targeting those elites who have enabled Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” said Andrew Adams, director of that task force. “For those who have tied their fortunes to a brutal and lawless regime, today’s action is a message that those nations dedicated to the rule of law are equally dedicated to separating the oligarchs from their tainted luxuries.”

The White House has said that many allied countries, including Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and others are involved in trying to collect and share information against Russians targeted for sanctions. In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden warned oligarchs that, “we are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

Other yachts seized

Monday’s capture is not the first time Spanish authorities have been involved in the seizure of a Russian oligarch’s superyacht. Officials there said they had seized a vessel valued at over $140 million US owned by the CEO of a state-owned defence conglomerate and a close Putin ally.

French authorities have also seized superyachts, including one believed to belong to Igor Sechin, a Putin ally who runs Russian oil giant Rosneft, which has been on the U.S. sanctions list since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Italy has also seized several yachts and other assets.

Italian financial police moved quickly seizing the superyacht Lena belonging to Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin, in the port of San Remo; the 65-metre Lady M owned by Alexei Mordashov in nearby Imperia, featuring six suites and estimated to be worth 65 million euros; as well as villas in Tuscany and Como, according to government officials.





Source link

Denial of responsibility! Planetconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment