Police and FBI search oligarch’s £91.5m yacht in Mallorca

Agents from the US FBI and the Spanish Civil Guard searched a yacht belonging to an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They descended on the ship at the Marina Real in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands, on Monday morning.

A Civil Guard spokesman said more details would be released later.

A Civil Guard officer stands near the yacht (Francisco Ubilla/AP)

The yacht is among assets linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally of Mr Putin who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, technology and other assets, according to documents from the US Treasury Department.

Mr. Vekselberg’s assets in the United States are frozen and American companies are prohibited from doing business with him and his entities.

Mr. Vekselberg has long-standing ties to the United States, including a green card he once held and homes in New York and Connecticut.

The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.

Mr Vekselberg was also questioned during an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and worked closely with his US cousin, Andrew Intrater, who runs the new investment management firm Yorker Columbus Nova.

A US federal agent walks past two Civil Guards on the yacht
A US federal agent walks past two Civil Guards on the yacht (Francisco Ubilla/AP)

Columbus Nova denied that Mr. Vekselberg played a role in its payments to Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Vekselberg and Mr. Intrater met with Mr. Cohen at Trump Tower, one of several meetings between members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle and high-level Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition.

The 64-year-old tycoon founded Renova Group more than three decades ago. The group has the largest stake in United Co. Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminum producer, among other investments.

Mr. Vekselberg was first sanctioned by the United States in 2018 and then again in March, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Mr. Vekselberg was also sanctioned by the UK authorities.

The US Justice Department and Treasury Department have launched sanctions enforcement initiatives to “seize and freeze” giant boats and other expensive Russian elite assets due to the Kremlin war.

The White House said many allied nations, including Germany, the UK, France, Italy and others, are trying to collect and share information against sanctioned Russians.

President Joe Biden has warned the oligarchs that the United States and its European allies “will find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets.”

He said, “We come for your ill begotten gains.”

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