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77m M/Y Tango Seized by Spanish Officials Under U.S. Government Orders

6 April 2022By Holly Overton
Credit: Raphael Montigneaux

Written by

Holly Overton

Holly is the online editor of our sister website boatinternational.com. She grew up sailing dinghies on the south coast of England before switching to the world of superyachts.

The 77-meter Feadship M/Y Tango has been seized by Spanish officials in Palma at the request of the United States Department of Justice under ongoing economic sanctions against Russia.

The yacht was boarded on Tuesday (April 4) as part of an operation carried out by the Spanish Civil Guard in cooperation with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Justice Department's KleptoCapture task force, after U.S. officials linked Tango to Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg is currently under investigation by the U.S. authorities for sanction violations but is not named on the European list of sanctioned individuals. 

A statement by the Department of Justice said: "Spanish authorities acted pursuant to a request from the U.S. Department of Justice for assistance following the issuance of a seizure warrant, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which alleged that Tango was subject to forfeiture based on violation of U.S. bank fraud, money laundering, and sanction statutes."

Officials in Spain and the U.S. will now review the vessel's documentation to corroborate the identity of the owner.

The confiscation of Tango marks the first superyacht to be frozen under orders by the American government and follows a number of temporary arrest orders against yachts in the Mediterranean, including the 72-meter M/Y Axioma, 85-meter M/Y Valerie and 135-meter M/Y Crescent.

The Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force was announced on March 2, with the aim to "leverage all the Department’s tools and authorities against efforts to evade or undermine the economic actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression."

In a statement, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said: “Today the Department of Justice delivers on our commitment to hold accountable those whose criminal activity strengthens the Russian government as it continues to wage its unjust war in Ukraine. That commitment is one we are not finished honoring.”

Speaking on national television, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned that the seizure of the vessel would “not be the last.”

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