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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Spain Detains a Briton for Allegedly Helping a Russian Tycoon Evade Sanctions

Richard Masters is charged over scheme involving the superyacht Tango owned by Viktor Vekselberg

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UNITED STATES/SPAIN: A British man who the US wanted to help a Russian tycoon avoid sanctions on his $90 million (£73 million) superyacht was detained in Spain. The US said that the man helped the Russian tycoon prevent the sanctions.

The US Department of Justice has named the 52-year-old Briton as Richard Masters. He is accused of helping Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin who is the target of US sanctions, get around them and launder money using his 255-foot luxury yacht, Tango.

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Vladislav Osipov, a 51-year-old Russian businessman, has also been indicted in the US but is still at large.

US sanctions have been in place against Vekselberg, the founder of a Russian energy company, since 2018.

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A British national was detained at Madrid’s Barajas airport as part of a joint operation with the FBI and Homeland Security Investigation, according to Spain’s Guardia Civil police department. In order to deport Masters, the US had requested that he be detained in Spain.

The Guardia Civil said, “The arrested British citizen is the owner and administrator of a trading company based in Mallorca that offers maintenance and administrative services to boats.” 

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The suspect and his company may have made up to €800,000 (£707,000) for maintaining the oligarch’s yacht, according to the police.

“After Vekselberg was sanctioned in April 2018, Masters’s company took over the management of Tango and conspired with others to evade the US sanctions,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

The statement said that as a result, US financial institutions carried out “hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Tango-related transactions” that they would not have been able to if they had known about Vekselberg’s involvement.

The District of Columbia’s US attorney, Matthew Graves, said individuals attempting to get around sanctions against the oligarchs who back the Putin administration was breaking US law.

Also Read: Shakira to Face Trial in Spain over Alleged Tax Fraud

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