American authorities, working with Spanish officials, seized an oligarch’s yacht Monday amid sanctions against Russia’s elite over the Ukraine invasion.
“Today marks our task force’s first seizure of an asset belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
At the request of U.S. authorities, Spanish officials took possession of a 255-foot yacht known as the Tango in the port of Palma de Mallorca. It’s estimated to be worth at least $90 million.
The yacht is owned by Ukraine-born billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and heads the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in minerals, mining and tech, among several other sectors. Vekselberg, who once had homes in New York and Connecticut, was also questioned in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election.
Justice Department officials obtained a warrant for the confiscation after arguing that the yacht should be forfeited for violating sanctions statutes. It’s the first U.S. seizure of an oligarch’s yacht since Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen created the Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs task force to enforce sanctions over the Ukraine invasion.
“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,” Garland said.