US Authorities Accuse Russian Oligarch of Money Laundering and Bank Fraud
US authorities have accused Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg of conspiring to launder money and commit fraudulent activities after his superyacht was seized in Spain.
Vekselberg, who was born in Ukraine and founded Russia-based conglomerate Renova Group, got his massive vessel named Tango seized by Spanish investigators after the U.S. and Western allies hit him with sanctions.
An FBI representative signed a new warrant to seize the superyacht, which is a sign of the serious allegations against Vekselberg. According to the FBI, Vekselberg used these tactics to obscure his ownership of the yacht, which is believed to be worth $90 million.
The most recent U.S. sanctions came after Russia invaded Ukraine and targeted Vekselberg’s yacht and private jet.
In a statement, the department said that Spanish authorities seized the superyacht after a request by the U.S. Department of Justice. A Video published on the DOJ’s YouTube page shows the FBI and Spanish authorities boarding Vekselberg’s yacht.
Tango is over 250 feet long and is believed to be worth $90 million, the Justice Department said. Vekselberg was among a group of oligarchs sanctioned in 2018 by former President Donald Trump’s administration. Forbes estimates Vekselberg’s net worth to be just under $6 billion.
Vekselberg’s yacht is the latest asset owned by a Russian oligarch to be seized after the invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies have tried to squeeze Russia’s elite as part of their effort to punish Moscow for the war.
The warrant alleged that “Vekselberg caused payments for the TANGO to be run through various shell companies in order to prevent U.S. financial institutions from accurately executing their KYC [Know Your Customer] controls and in order to avoid the filing of SARs [Suspicious Activity Reports] related to his financial transactions.”