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Federal agents search US properties of Russian tycoon Vekselberg

Viktor Vekselberg (Jürg Vollmer/WikiCommons)
September 05, 2022

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Federal agents in the United States have searched several properties linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, whose superyacht was seized in Spain earlier this year at the request of the United States.

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The FBI said on September 1 that its agents and officers of Homeland Security searched a Park Avenue high-rise apartment in New York, an estate in Southampton, New York, and the enclave of Fisher Island in Miami, Florida.

No further details were provided, while the mentioned properties are believed to be linked to the 65-year-old Vekselberg, who is known as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There was no immediate comment from either Vekselberg or his representatives.

In April, Spanish police seized a superyacht worth around $120 million that belonged to Vekselberg following a request from the United States, which alleges the vessel violates U.S. bank fraud, money laundering, and sanction statutes.

The U.S. investigation alleges that Vekselberg bought the yacht, named the Tango, in 2011 and has owned it since then. It also alleges that Vekselberg used shell companies to hide his interest in the Tango to avoid bank oversight into U.S.-dollar transactions related to it.

Vekselberg, a billionaire with ties to Russia’s mining industry, and those working on his behalf made payments through U.S. banks for the support and maintenance of the Tango, the warrant for the seizure of the yacht said. This included a payment for a December 2020 stay at a luxury resort in the Maldives and mooring fees for the yacht.

Vekselberg was first sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April 2018. More sanctions were added on March 12 of this year following the start of Russia’s ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

It was one of several superyachts linked to a Russian billionaire to be impounded as part of Europe’s efforts to pressure Russian President Putin to pull out of Ukraine.