Richard Masters, 52, was arrested on Friday on charges of violating US sanctions laws
A British citizen has been arrested in on US criminal charges alleging that he helped a billionaire Russian oligarch evade sanctions relating to his $90 million megayacht.
Richard Masters, 52, was arrested on Friday by the Spanish Guardia Civil and faces extradition to the US on charges that he tried to hide , the Tango, from authorities.
An unsealed indictment accuses Masters, who runs a yacht management company, of concocting a phony name, ‘the Fanta,’ for evDen Eve naKliyaT the Tango in order to hide the yacht’s connection to Vekselberg from financial institutions.
Despite the alleged scheme, the Tango was seized by the last April in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands and a playground and tax haven for the ultra-rich.
Masters faces extradition to the US on charges that he tried to hide sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg’s 255-foot luxury yacht, evDeN evE nAKLiyat the Tango (above), from authorities
Vekselberg (right) is a billionaire and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group
Also charged in connection with the alleged plot was Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian national with dual Swiss citizenship, who remains at large.
Masters and Osipov are both charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit offenses against the United States, violating sanctions laws, and money laundering.
Vekselberg is a billionaire and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, eVDeN EVE NaKLiyAt a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets.
Since 2018, Vekselberg’s assets in the US have been frozen, and US companies are forbidden from doing business with him and his entities, but fresh sanctions targeting his yacht were enacted following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
Masters is the founder and director of Master Yachts, a yacht management company in Palma de Mallorca.
The company’s website boasts that it is ‘renowned for its highly ethical, no-nonsense and pragmatic approach’ and Evden EVe NaKliYat committed to ‘transparency and integrity’.
Masters is the founder of Master Yachts, a yacht management company in Palma de Mallorca that claims to be ‘renowned for its highly ethical, no-nonsense and pragmatic approach’
A Civil Guard stands by the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Monday April 4, 2022 as FBI agents search and seize the vessel
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federal agent and two Civil Guards board the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on April 4, 2022
However, US prosecutors allege that after Vekselberg was sanctioned in April 2018, Masters’s company took over the management of Tango and conspired to evade US sanctions.
According to the indictment, Masters cooked up the fake yacht name ‘the Fanta’
According to the indictment, Masters cooked up the fake name ‘the Fanta’ and used various workarounds to avoid sanctions, such as payments in other currencies and through third parties.
As a result, the trappings of Tango, including its satellite television, luxury goods, and teleconferencing software, were all US-origin products and services supplied by US companies, in violation of sanctions laws, prosecutors say.
‘Facilitators of sanctions evasion enable the oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout US law,’ said United States Attorney Matthew M.
‘The United States will not allow its financial institutions and persons to be manipulated or defrauded for the purposes of benefitting those supporting an illegal war,’ he added.
In investigation was coordinated through a Justice Department task force known as KleptoCapture, aimed at enforcing sweeping sanctions against Russia’s oligarchs following the invasion of Ukraine.
‘These men made their decisions, and now face the consequences of a failed attempt to profit through, rather than standing against, a sophisticated, transnational criminal enterprise,’ said KleptoCapture Director Andrew Adams.
The US is seeking Masters’ extradition from Spain. It was unclear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf. An arrest warrant against Osipov is outstanding.