The US government has seized a mega yacht in Spain owned by an oligarch with close ties to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
It marks the first time the US government has seized an oligarch’s yacht since the country assembled a task force to target Russian elites in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Spanish Civil Guard and US federal agents descended on the Tango in the port of Palma de Mallorca.
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The 78-meter vessel has been valued at £ 91.5m by superyachtfan.com, a specialized website that tracks the world’s biggest and most exclusive recreational boats.
The US Justice Department, which obtained a warrant from a federal judge in Washington, alleges the yacht should be forfeited for violating US bank fraud, money laundering and sanctions.
Police were seen entering and leaving the vessel on Monday morning.
The yacht is among the assets linked to billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.
He is a close ally of Putin and heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining and other assets, according to US Treasury Department documents.
All of Mr Vekselberg’s assets in the US are frozen and American companies are barred from doing business with him and his entities.
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He was first sanctioned by the US in 2018 and again in March of this year, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began.
He has also been sanctioned by authorities in the UK.
More than 1,000 Russian oligarchs and entities have been sanctioned by the UK since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.
This is the first US seizure since Merrick Garland, the attorney-general. and Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, assembled a task force known as REPO – short for Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs – in response to Russia’s invasion.
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Mr Garland said “it will not be the last”.
French and Italian officials have also seized yachts and assets linked to Russian oligarchs.