- Richard Masters and Vladislav Osipov were charged by the Department of Justice for sanctions evasion.
- The US has accused the pair of trying to conceal a sanctioned oligarch’s ownership of a superyacht.
- Masters, 52, used a fake name for Viktor Vekselberg’s “Tango,” calling it the “Fanta,” per DoJ.
The Department of Justice has accused two men of trying to conceal a Russian oligarch’s ownership of a 255-foot superyacht, according to a statement issued on Friday.
They’re accused of helping longtime Putin ally Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned by the US in 2018 over alleged election interference, to evade sanctions.
Prosecutors said Vladislav Osipov and Richard Masters had facilitated the operation of Vekselberg’s $90 million yacht that was seized by Spanish authorities last April.
Masters, a 52-year-old UK national, was arrested in Spain on Friday, following an extradition request from the US.
An arrest warrant has also been issued for 51-year-old Osipov, a dual Russian/Swiss national who is a former employee of Vekselberg.
Both have been charged separately with conspiracy to defraud the US and to commit offenses against the US, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and money laundering.
Osipov designed a “complicated ownership structure of shell companies” to mask Vekselberg’s ownership of the boat, called “Tango,” according to the DoJ. Meanwhile, Masters’ company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, took over management of the yacht and conspired to evade sanctions imposed Vekselberg.
Masters even devised a fake name for Vekselberg’s “Tango” — calling it the “Fanta.” Both are the names of sodas sold in the UK.
Osipov and Masters allowed the “Tango” to continue operating “as a luxury yacht with the full array of services and luxury goods available to it,” the DoJ said in its statement. The yacht’s operation was “supported by hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally-obtained US services and US financial transactions, and all for the benefit of Vekselberg.”
Representatives of Osipov and Masters could not be contacted for comment, Reuters reported.
FBI deputy director Paul Abbate said: “Today’s indictments and the arrest executed by Spanish law enforcement demonstrate the FBI’s continued focus on tracking down and holding accountable those who assist sanctioned Russian oligarchs.”
Matthew Graves, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said: “The United States will not allow its financial institutions and persons to be manipulated or defrauded for the purposes of benefiting those supporting an illegal war.”
Homeland Security agent Ivan Arvelo added: “The message is clear: Putin’s cronies will find no succor in their riches and those that illegally enable such lifestyles will be called to justice.”