Briton arrested in Spain for allegedly helping Russian oligarch evade sanctions | Spain

A British man wanted by US authorities for allegedly helping a Russian oligarch evade sanctions over his $90m (£73m) superyacht has been arrested in Spain.

The Briton, named by the US Department of Justice as Richard Masters, 52, has been charged with facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering involving Tango, a 75-meter luxury yacht owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch who is under US sanctions state. an associate of Vladimir Putin.

Another businessman, Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian national, has also been charged in the US but remains at large.

Vekselberg, the founder of a Russian energy conglomerate, has been the target of US sanctions since 2018.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police said a British national had been arrested at Madrid’s Barajas Airport in a joint operation with the FBI and Homeland Security Investigation. The US had asked Spain to arrest Masters for extradition.

“The arrested British national is the owner and manager of a commercial company based in Mallorca that provides maintenance and administrative services to boats,” said the Guardia Civil.

“One of his clients is a Russian citizen who is prohibited from operating in US markets and with US financial firms. The yacht in question was used by the aforementioned Russian citizen and his family.”

Police added that the suspect and his company allegedly earned as much as €800,000 (£707,000) for looking after the oligarch’s yacht.

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

“According to the indictment, Masters devised, among other things, a scheme to use a false name for the yacht, ‘the Fanta’, to hide from financial institutions that payments in US dollars ultimately benefited Tango and Vekselberg. ”

As a result, the statement added, U.S. financial institutions were processing “hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions” related to the Tango that would not have been allowed had they known of Vekselberg’s involvement.

Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia where the charges were filed, said those seeking to circumvent sanctions against the oligarchs who support Putin’s regime flouted U.S. law.

“The United States will not allow its financial institutions and individuals to be manipulated or defrauded for the benefit of those who support an illegal war,” he added.

Andrew Adams, the director of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force, said Masters had to face the “consequences” of his actions.

“Companies and executives have a choice,” he said. “They can participate in the global effort to eradicate corruption, sanctions violations and money laundering, and reap the benefits of prompt and full cooperation; or they may, as Osipov and Masters would have done, try to protect themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud.’

Adams added: “These men have made their decisions and now face the consequences of a failed attempt to profit from, rather than oppose, a sophisticated, transnational criminal enterprise.”

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