A British man wanted by US authorities on charges of helping a Russian oligarch evade sanctions over a $90m (£73m) yacht has been arrested in Spain.
The Briton, named by the US Department of Justice as Richard Masters, 52, is accused of facilitating an sanctions-busting and money-laundering scheme involving the Tango, a 255-foot luxury yacht owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch subject to US sanctions. has been An associate of Vladimir Putin
Another businessman, Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian national, has also been charged in the United States but remains at large.
Vekselberg, the founder of a Russian energy company, has been targeted by US sanctions since 2018.
Spain’s Guardia Civil police force has announced that a British national has been arrested at Madrid’s Barajas Airport in a joint operation with the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations. The United States had asked Spain to arrest Masters in order to extradite him.
The Guardia Civil said: “The arrested English national is the owner and manager of a commercial company based in Majorca that provides maintenance and administrative services to boats.”
“Among his clients is a Russian citizen who is banned from operating in US markets and US financial trading. The yacht in question was used by the Russian citizen and his family.
The suspect and his company are believed to have earned €800,000 (£707,000) looking after the oligarch’s yacht, the force added.
The US Department of Justice said in a statement: After Vekselberg was sanctioned in April 2018, Masters took over management of Tango and conspired with others to evade US sanctions.
According to the indictment, among other things, Masters devised a scheme to use a false name for the yacht, “Fanta,” to conceal from financial institutions that the U.S. dollar payments ultimately benefited Tango and Vekselberg. “
As a result, the statement added, US financial institutions processed “hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions” involving Tango that would not have been authorized 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 who try to circumvent sanctions against oligarchs who support the Putin regime are breaking U.S. law.
He added: “The United States will not allow its institutions and financial persons to be manipulated or defrauded in order to benefit supporters of an illegal war.”
Andrew Adams, director of the Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture division, said the master must face “consequences” for his actions.
“Companies and managers have a choice,” he said. They can join the global effort to root out corruption, sanctions violations and money laundering and reap the benefits of rapid and comprehensive cooperation. Or they can, as Osipov and Masters are said to have done, try to shield themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud.
“These individuals made their own decisions and now face the consequences of a failed attempt to profit rather than stand up to a sophisticated, transnational criminal enterprise,” added Adams.