Two charged with evading US sanctions for helping Russian oligarch protect $90 million yacht

Two businessmen have been accused of orchestrating a money laundering scheme to avoid the seizure of a $90 million yacht belonging to Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin.

Vladislav Osipov, 51, a dual Russian and Swiss citizen, and Richard Masters, 52, a British citizen, were charged with sanctions evasion and money laundering related to operating the 255-foot luxury yacht “Tango” when Vekselberg was cleared of sanctions. was killed.

Masters was arrested in Spain on Friday at the request of the Justice Department. Osipov is absconding.

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Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg

Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg attends a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum on September 5, 2019 in Vladivostok, Russia. Two businessmen have been accused of trying to evade US sanctions by keeping their yacht, “Tango”, off the bay. (Reuters / Reuters Photos)

US Attorney Matthew Graves said “sanctions evasion enables oligarchs who support Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout US law.”

Both men allegedly used shell companies to allow Vekselberg to own the yacht. He was banned in April 2018. US sanctions prevent US companies such as banks from doing business with those sanctioned entities.

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

As a result, American financial institutions processed hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions for Tango that otherwise would not have been allowed when Vekselberg’s involvement became known.

In addition, Osipov and Masters owned yacht employees continued to do business with American companies and used a variety of workarounds to avoid detection, such as paying in other currencies and through third parties, federal prosecutors said.

Russian elite yacht

A yacht named “Tango”, owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, is seen at the Palma de Mallorca Yacht Club in Mallorca, Spain. (Reuters / Reuters Photos)

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“As a result of these plans, Tango’s furnishings, including its Internet, technology, weather forecasting, and computing systems, as well as its satellite television, luxury goods, and teleconferencing software, were subpoenaed.” Said US-origin products and services are supplied by US companies for the benefit of Vekselberg.

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

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