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FBI seizes $90M superyacht from Russian in Spain

The FBI has issued its first seizure order in Europe, acting under international norms, for a $90 million superyacht owned by a Russian tycoon with links to President Putin.

The Civic Guard seized the Tango superyacht linked to Viktor Vekselberg in Mallorca, backed up by officials from Spain's national police.

Spanish authorities confirmed that the operation was initiated in response to a request from the United States, following the establishment of the REPO task force (Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs).

Vekselberg is the owner and president of the Renova Group, a Russian mining corporation, and is reported to be worth more than €9 billion.

He has also been questioned earlier by the Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election, The Times says.

He was also sanctioned for the first time by the US in 2018 for his ties to the Kremlin, and has been added to the United Kingdom's sanctions list.

The Spanish Civil Guard stated that it had uncovered a "complex financial and partnership plan" intended to conceal the superyacht's ownership.

The US Department of Justice stated in a statement that Mr Vekselberg acquired the superyacht in 2011 and has consistently owned it since then. The DOJ contends that the Russian oligarch utilized shell firms to conceal his Tango stake in order to “avoid bank oversight into US dollar transactions related thereto.”

US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Last week, investigators from the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested a £38 million superyacht owned by a Russian billionaire, the first significant operation by the NCA's 'Kleptocracy cell' to take place in public.



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