The US and European authorities have previously confiscated several yachts of wealthy Russians with ties to President Vladimir Putin since the Russian attack on Ukraine on February 24, in an attempt to pressure Putin to withdraw his forces.
Spanish police said in a statement that the 78-meter yacht, Tango, was detained by Spanish police in the port of Palma de Mallorca in coordination with US federal agents.
The statement added that the yacht, worth more than 90 million euros, is owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, head of the Renova Group and “very close” to Putin.
Renova and some other Russian companies were added to the US sanctions blacklist in 2018 as part of Washington’s efforts to punish Moscow for its attacks against “Western democracies.”
The statement noted that Vekselberg is not a target of European Union sanctions “at the moment”, but is under investigation in the United States for attempting to conceal his ownership of the yacht to avoid Washington’s sanctions.
Police said Spanish and US agents seized documents and computers from the Cook Islands-flagged yacht “to confirm the identity of its true owner”.
And last March, Washington announced the establishment of a cell to track down and confiscate the belongings of Russian businessmen who are subject to sanctions.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, in a statement: “Our staff has executed the first asset seizure of a sanctioned person with close ties to the Russian regime. And this operation will not be the last.”
This is the fourth yacht for a Russian billionaire to be booked in Spain since the Russian attack on Ukraine.
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