Federal Agents From U.S. And Spain Captures Yacht Owned By Russian Billionaire
SPAIN - Federal agents from the United States, along with law enforcement from Spain has boarded a $90 million dollar yacht owned by Russian billionaire Victor Vekselberg Monday and seized the property as per a court order.
The yacht was seized at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, which is the capital of the Balearic Islands, according to AP news.
The United States Treasury Department put out a statement saying that Vekselberg had close ties with top government officials in Moscow, which included Russian President Vladimir Putin and the former president Dmitry Medvedev.
The U.S. Department of Justice stated that the yacht was subject to forfeiture for alleged U.S. bank fraud, money laundering and sanction statues. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated on Monday, "We will now seek to have the vessel forfeited as the proceeds of a crime".
The Department of Justice said that Vekselberg purchased the yacht, which is named 'Tango' in 2011 and that the yacht ownership was through shell companies in order to hide his ownership interest and avoid bank oversight by the United States.
Garland stated, "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".
"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", he added.
Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said, "For decades, the Putin regime has been supported by a group of Russian oligarchs that abused their power for private gain to amass untold riches. As DHS’s investigative arm, HSI stands at the forefront of combating global networks that seek to violate U.S. law and exploit our nation’s financial systems. Working with our partners at the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, we will hold Putin’s oligarchs accountable and deny them the lavish lifestyles they cherish".
The United States likely won't hold onto the yacht for long however. U.S. attorney Jonathan Turley wrote, "They won't have it for long probably. Jonathan Turley: "The United States and Western countries have considerable authority to seize property, but less authority to keep it. The reason is that, unlike Russia, these countries are bound by property rights and rules of due process".