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The U.S. government on Monday seized a mega boat belonging to an oligarchy with close ties to the Russian president in Spain, the first attempt to “seize and freeze” giant boats and other valuable assets of the Russian elite in a bid to enforce government sanctions.
Spanish civilian and U.S. federal agents disembark at Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Associated Press reporters at the scene Monday morning saw police boarding the boat and disembarking.
This was confirmed by two people who knew the seizure well. People could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP anonymously. A spokesman for the Spanish Civil Guard said Spanish police and FBI officials were in the marina on Monday morning to search for the ship and more details would be released later.
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A Civil Guard source told the Associated Press that the immovable boat Tango, a 78-meter (254-ft) ship carrying the flag of the Cook Islands, and Superyachtfan.com, a specialized website that tracks the world’s largest and most exclusive recreational boats. Value $ 120 million. The source also did not approve of the name in media reports and spoke to the AP anonymously.
According to US Treasury Department documents, the boat also owns assets belonging to Victor Wexelberg, the billionaire and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the leader of the Moscow – based Renault Group. All of Wexelberg’s assets in the United States have been frozen, and US companies have been banned from doing business with him and his companies.
The move marks the first time the US government has seized an oligarchy’s boat after Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen convened a task force called the REPO. Ukraine in late February.
Wexelberg has long had ties with the United States, including the green card he holds and homes in New York and Connecticut. The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune by investing in the post-Soviet aluminum and oil industries.
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Wexelberg was questioned during the investigation of Robert Mueller, a special adviser on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and worked closely with his American cousin Andrew Intrator, head of the New York investment management firm Columbus Nova.
After Wexelberg and the intruder drew attention to the Mல்லller investigation after the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels released a note, $ 500,000 of hush money was sent by Columbus Nova to the shell company set up by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Columbus Nova denied that Wexelberg had any role in paying Cohen.
Wexelberg and Introter met Cohen at the Trump Tower, one of the many meetings between members of Trump’s inner circle and top Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition.
The 64-year-old Mughal founded the Renault Group three decades ago. Other investments include United Co., Russia’s largest aluminum producer. The group holds a large stake in Russell.
Wexelberg was first allowed by the United States in 2018, and in March of this year, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began. Wexelberg was admitted by authorities in the United Kingdom.
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The U.S. Justice Department has launched a sanctions task force called KleptoCapture, which also aims to enforce US financial restrictions on Russia and its billionaires. The task force will also target financial institutions and organizations that have helped oligarchy move money to prevent sanctions.
The White House has said that a number of allies, including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and other countries, are trying to gather and share information against Russians targeted by sanctions. In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden warned the oligarchy that US and European allies would “find and seize your boats, your luxury apartments, your private jets.”
“We are coming for your false gain,” he said.
Captured on Monday is not the first time Spanish authorities have seized a super boat belonging to the Russian oligarchy. Authorities there say they have seized a $ 140 million ship owned by the chief executive of the state-owned Security Council and a close ally of Putin.
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French authorities have also seized super boats believed to be owned by Putin’s ally Igor Chechin, who runs Russia’s oil company Rosneft, which has been on U.S. sanctions since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Italy has seized many boats and other property.
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The Italian financial police seized the super boat “Lena” owned by Janeti Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin, and moved quickly into the port of San Remo; The 65-meter (215-ft) “Lady M” is owned by Alexei Mortashov in nearby Imperia, which features six sets and is valued at 65 65 million; Villas in Tuscany and Como, according to government officials.