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The US Just Seized a $90 Million Superyacht Owned by Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg

The Justice Department cited bank fraud, money laundering and sanctions violations as justification for the seizure.

Another day, another superyacht confiscated on the high seas.

US authorities seized a luxurious $90 million vessel owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg on Monday, as part of wide-ranging Western sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The 255-footer in question, which goes by the name of Tango, was docked at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands. Spanish authorities executed a court order placing a freeze on the vessel after the US Department of Justice obtained a seizure warrant seeking forfeiture due to Vekselberg’s alleged US bank fraud, money laundering and sanctions violations.

Members of the Spanish Civil Guard and US law enforcement agents boarded the Tango early Monday to detain the vessel.

A Civil Guard stands by the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Monday April 4, 2022. U.S. federal agents and Spain's Civil Guard are searching the yacht owned by a Russian oligarch. The yacht is among the assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally with Russia's 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. (AP Photo/Francisco Ubilla)

Spanish and US authorities seized the superyacht on Monday.  Francisco Ubilla/AP

“Today marks our taskforce’s first seizure of an asset belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “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, who helms a Russian conglomerate known as the Renova Group, was hit with new penalties by the US government on March 11. The Justice Department said the billionaire bought the yacht in 2011 but used shell companies to hide his ownership and “avoid bank oversight into US dollar transactions related thereto,” including a December 2020 stay at a luxury resort in the Maldives.

A Civil Guard stands by the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Monday April 4, 2022. U.S. federal agents and Spain's Civil Guard are searching the yacht owned by a Russian oligarch. The yacht is among the assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally with Russia's 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. (AP Photo/Francisco Ubilla)

The superyacht “Tango” is estimated to be worth $90 million.  Francisco Ubilla/AP

In addition to the superyacht, all of Vekselberg’s assets in the US have been frozen. Stateside companies are also barred from doing business with him and his entities. It’s not the first time that the billionaire has faced sanctions from the US, either. He was first sanctioned in 2018 and is currently facing sanctions from the EU and UK.

Italy, France, Finland and the UK have seized superyachts with connections to Russia’s wealthiest individuals in recent weeks, but this marks the Justice Department’s first seizure under the task force KleptoCapture.

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