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US seizes Russian oligarch’s $90 million yacht in Spain

The US and Spain on Monday seized a yacht in Mallorca owned by Russian oligarch and billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Department of Justice said Monday.

Why it matters: Attorney General Merrick Garland said it marks the first seizure by the Justice Department’s newly created Russian sanctions enforcement task force, adding that it “will not be the last.”

  • “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,” Garland said.
  • The Treasury Department estimated the yacht’s value at $90 million.

Vekselberg has been sanctioned by the Department of Treasury since at least 2018, though the department announced new sanctions against him last month for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • Vekselberg is the president of Renova Group, a Russian aluminum, oil, energy, and telecoms conglomerate.

What they’re saying: Spain’s Civil Guard said in a statement Monday that it assisted the FBI and the Homeland Security Investigations in seizing the yacht, named “Tango,” in a shipyard in Mallorca, as first reported by AP.

  • “During the entry and search carried out inside the yacht, various documentation and computer devices have been seized and will be analyzed to, among other things, corroborate the identity of its real owner,” it said.
  • It said the ship sails under the Cook Islands flag and is owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands that is managed by companies in Panama through what the Guard called “a complex and corporate plot to conceal its truthful ownership.”
  • The Justice Department said the 255-foot luxury yacht was subject to forfeiture based on violations of US bank fraud, money laundering, and sanction statutes, as part of a US investigation into Vekselberg.

The big picture: All of Vekselberg’s US assets had already been frozen, and US companies are forbidden from doing business with him and his entities.

  • The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control identified Tango and a $90 million aircraft (tail number P4-MIS) also owned by Vekselberg as blocked property last month.

Go deeper: EU to hit Russia with fresh sanctions after Bucha killings

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