TARRAGONA – For the first time, Spain seizes property belonging to Russian oligarchs through criminal proceedings. Judges in Palma and Tarragona seized two mega yachts in the ports of both cities on Monday.
It is thought the yachts are owned by the Russians oligarchs, Viktor Vekselberg and Igor Sechin. These two magnates are on the sanctions list of the US authorities. The yachts in question are ‘Tango’ by Vekselberg and the ‘Crescent’ by Sechin. Furthermore, it is the first criminal procedure that has been done in Spain against oligarchs. The previous seizures of mega yachts in Spain took place through the administrative route.
The 135-metre yacht, Crescent has an estimated value of more than €100 million. According to sources close to the case and cited in El País, the judge has ordered five crew members to be called as witnesses. They are being questioned to confirm the identity of the real owner of the mega yacht. It is officially registered in the name of the company Densiarly Entst. Moreover, this is registered in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
The yacht was immobilised on March 15 by order of the General Directorate of the Merchant Navy, which falls under the Ministry of Transport. Therefore, the ship was unable to sail and could not be sold.
Sechin, boss of the highly valuable and closely linked to the Kremlin oil company Rosneft, is reportedly a very close friend of Putin’s. That is why he was on the list of 893 names of powerful Russians that the EU has drawn up together with the US in the context of the sanctions against Russia. He is also said to be part of Putin’s shadow cabinet because of his capacity as a ‘siloviki’: powerful man and former KGB agent.
On Monday, agents of the Spanish Guardia Civil also detained the Tango in the port of Palma. They were assisted in this action by the FBI and members of the US Office of National Security Investigation (HSI). The ship’s computers and documents have been seized. The authorities also hope to be able to establish the real identity of the owner with this.
The Tango has a length of 78 metres and a value of approximately €90 million. It flies the flag of the Cook Islands and is under the name of a company based in the British Virgin Islands, which in turn is operated by companies in Panama. A complicated construction that, according to the Ministry of the Interior, is intended to hide the identity of the alleged real owner Vekselberg.
Vekselberg owns the Renova Group, a conglomerate in the aluminum, telecommunications, and energy sectors. Forbes estimates his fortune at over $13 billion. Until last Monday, he was not on the EU sanctions list. However, he was on that of the US. Furthermore, Vekselberg is said to maintain close relations with Putin and former president Dmitry Medvédev.
Other yachts of Russian oligarchs in Spain
In addition to the Tango and Crescent, Spain has its sights set on other Russian oil-powered mega yachts. Until now, however, only through the administrative route. On March 14, the yacht Valerie was immobilised in the port of Barcelona. It is said to be owned by Russian magnate Serguei Chemezov, director of Russia’s largest arms company, Rostec.
A day later, the same happened to Lady Anastasia in Port Adriano (Mallorca) and presumably to the Russian Alexander Mijeev, general manager of the arms export company Rosoboronexport.
In addition to the Valeria, Chemezov would also own a villa in S’Agaró (Girona) and a villa in Estepona (Málaga). However, these properties have not yet been seized.
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