US seizes mega yacht owned by Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin

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.

Spain's Civil Guard and US federal agents descended on the Tango at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain's Balearic Islands.

The 78-metre vessel has been valued at £91.5m by superyachtfan.com, a specialised website that tracks the world's largest 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 statutes.

Associated Press reporters at the scene saw police 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.

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 neighbour.

This is the first US seizure since attorney general Merrick Garland and US treasury secretary Janet Yellen assembled a task force known as REPO - short for Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs - in response to Russia's invasion.

Source: Sky news

News Code 193614

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