Spanish officials seized a Russian yacht in the port city of Mallorca at the behest of the U.S. Department of Justice this week, marking the first major get for Task Force KleptoCapture.
Yup. that’s what they’re calling it. G-Men really need to workshop this stuff a little. NPR has the lowdown on this caper:
The $90 million 255-foot yacht, named Tango, is owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who heads the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in metallurgy, machinery, energy, telecommunications as well as others.
“Today marks our taskforce’s first seizure of an asset belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. “Together, with our international partners, we will do everything possible to hold accountable any individual whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war.”
The seizure was performed by Spanish Guardia Civil officers with assistance from the FBI.
$90 million huh? Yeah, I guess that’s cool and all, but other countries have been going hard on the yacht seizure for weeks now. They’ve scooped up some fairly impressive pleasure crafts, like this $700 million dollar yacht which almost certainly belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. Italian and Spanish officials have been collecting Russian yachts like they’re going for the whole set, and Finland managed to nab 21 possible Russian yachts in one go.
The U.S. has been seriously behind the ball on picking up fancy Russian vessels and other assets. It’s actually tough for U.S. officials to seize assets due to the obfuscation of who truly owns such assets as well as strict privacy laws. The House committee on Foreign Affairs recently introduced the Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act to make it easier to turn Russian assets into Ukrainian support. The bill already has broad bipartisan support with senators on both sides of the aisle ready to vote for the act once it reaches their chamber. The act also provides a hefty bounty for U.S. citizens who turn over information leading to seizure of such assets.