Amid US imposing sanctions on Russia, a $90 million yacht belonging to Viktor Vekselberg was seized in Spain following US authorities receiving crucial information from a manager at a company that helped the Russian billionaire and his wife design and purchase the 78-meter-long (256 feet) ship called Tango, according to Bloomberg report.
This comes at a time when the United States Justice Department is targeting assets by sanctioned individuals, won court permission to take possession of Tango after presenting evidence that it belonged to Vekselberg, not an easy task when the world’s elite can easily mask ownership through webs of shell companies.
The department got some help from employee “W-1″ of “Company A,” according to court filings in Washington on Monday.
As per the government filing, the US officials told the court that Company A had “provided services to the Tango during its design and building phase,” and the vessel “was designed and built for Vekselberg.” The government’s source was a manager identified only as W-1, who also revealed that the Tango was held in the name of a shell corporation called Arinter, it said.
“W-1 stated that Company A employees met with Vekselberg and his staff at various points in the yacht design / build / delivery process,” the US said. “W-1 stated that Company A knew that Vekselberg was the owner of the Tango and that Vekselberg was involved in the Russian energy market.”
The government filing said that the US, which had served the company with a request for information about the Tango, told the company and the manager that none of their statements would be used against them in a criminal prosecution.
The Russian billionaire Vekselberg, who’s chairman of Renova Management AG, is worth $16.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, but not the European Union. International efforts to seize assets held by wealthy Russians tied to President Vladimir Putin have increased since the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Another Company A employee, identified as W-2, worked with Vekselberg and his wife “to arrange details related to the construction of the Tango,” according to the filing. “W-2 personally met with Vekselberg and confirmed that Vekselberg was the beneficial owner of the Tango.”
(With inputs from agencies)
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