Two charged with dodging US sanctions to help Russian oligarch protect m yacht

Two charged with dodging US sanctions to help Russian oligarch protect $90m yacht

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Two businessmen have been accused of orchestrating a money-laundering scheme to protect Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who has close ties to President Vladimir Putin, from having his $90 million yacht seized.

Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian-Swiss dual citizen, and British citizen Richard Masters, 52, are charged with sanctions evasion and money laundering in connection with their operation of the 255-foot luxury yacht Tango after sanctions were imposed on Vekselberg.

Masters was arrested on Friday at the request of the Ministry of Justice in Spain. Osipov remains at large.

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The Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg

Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg attends a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, September 5, 2019. Two businessmen have been accused of dodging US sanctions to prevent his yacht Tango from sailing at (Portal / Portal Photos )

“Instigators of sanctions circumvention allow oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout US laws,” said US Attorney Matthew Graves.

Both men reportedly used shell companies to allow Vekselberg’s ownership of the yacht. He was sanctioned in April 2018. US sanctions prohibit American companies, such as banks, from doing business with these sanctioned companies.

Masters ran a yacht management company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and allegedly took over the administration of Tango, the Justice Ministry said. He reportedly changed the yacht’s name to “The Fanta” to avoid sanction restrictions from banks.

As a result, US financial institutions processed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of transactions for Tango that would otherwise not have been approved had Vekselberg’s involvement become known.

In addition, Osipov and Masters allowed yacht employees to continue doing business with US companies and used a number of workarounds to avoid detection, such as: B. Payments in other currencies and through third parties, federal prosecutors said.

Russian oligarch yacht

The yacht, named ‘Tango’ and owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, is seen at the Palma de Mallorca Yacht Club on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Spain. (Portal / Portal photos)

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“As a result of these plans, Tango’s working mechanisms, including the Internet, technology, weather forecasting, and computer systems, and Tango’s insignia, including satellite television, luxury goods, and teleconferencing software, were all products and services of U.S. origin that provided by US companies for the benefit of Vekselberg,” the Justice Department said.

The yacht was seized by Spanish authorities in April at the request of the Ministry of Justice. Several luxury yachts owned by Russian oligarchs have been the subject of US sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago.