VIDEO: FBI and Spanish police seize Russian superyacht in Mallorca
The Spanish Guardia Civil police, along with FBI agents and US Homeland Security (USHS), have seized a 255ft superyacht owned by a Russian oligarch in Palma de Mallorca.
According to a report by the Guardia Civil, the superyacht Tango, which is valued at more than €90 million and owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, was boarded and seized by law enforcement officers from Guardia Civil, the FBI and USHS this week (video below).
Data from MarineTraffic shows that Tango had been in Palma de Mallorca since 30 January, where it arrived from the Turkish port of Fethiye.
In addition to the seizure, agents made an entry and search inside the boat and detained various pieces of documentation and computer devices.
Although until now Vekselberg has not been sanctioned by the European Union, he has been sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury, where he is being investigated for tax fraud, money laundering and documentary falsehood, in relation to the concealment of the real ownership of this luxury yacht, to try to avoid sanctions.
Yesterday, MIN reported that the Dutch government has impounded 14 Russia-linked vessels and the EU has detained several more since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. In March 2022, the UK also detained a Russian superyacht in Canary Wharf.
In reference to the seizure of Tango, the Guardia Civil said in a statement: ‘The seized yacht has the flag of the Cook Islands and is registered in the name of a company based in the British Virgin Islands, which in turn is managed by companies in Panama, all following a complex financial and corporate plot to hide the true ownership of the same.’
The US Department of Justice Public Affairs Office released a statement on 4 April detailing that the US investigation alleges that Vekselberg bought Tango in 2011 and has owned it continuously since that time. It further alleges that Vekselberg used shell companies to obfuscate his interest in Tango to avoid bank oversight into US dollar transactions related thereto. Additionally, after Vekselberg was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department on 6 April 2018, the warrant alleges that Vekselberg and those working on his behalf continued to make US dollar payments through US banks for the support and maintenance of Tango and its owners, including a payment for a December 2020 stay at a luxury water villa resort in the Maldives and mooring fees for the yacht.
“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,” says Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
“Today’s action makes clear that corrupt Russian oligarchs cannot evade sanctions to live a life of luxury whilst innocent Ukrainians are suffering,” says Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Today the Department of Justice delivers on our commitment to hold accountable those whose criminal activity strengthens the Russian government as it continues to wage its unjust war in Ukraine. That commitment is one we are not finished honouring.”
This week’s action in Palma had the participation of the FBI and the Homeland Security Investigations and has taken place within the framework of a rogatory commission from the United States and under the direction of the Investigating Court number 2 of Palma de Mallorca.