The superyacht was still being searched by security forces yesterday. | ALEJANDRO SEPULVEDA

The order for the Russian-owned yacht Tango to be seized and searched in Palma on Monday morning came directly from the White House.
The superyacht, which has been moored in Palma since last year, belongs to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and was seized on behalf of US authorities, the first time the United States has seized property belonging to a Russian oligarch since its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Monday’s action marked the first of many anticipated cases expected by the Justice Department’s “KleptoCapture” task force.
Launched last month, its goal is to put the finances of Russian oligarchs under strain in a bid to pressure Putin to cease his war on Ukraine.

The unit’s name is a play on the word “kleptocracy“, which refers to corrupted officials who misuse power to accumulate wealth.
The task force includes prosecutors, investigators and analysts from multiple federal agencies.
“Today marks our task force’s first seizure of an asset belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” US. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a video 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.”
Even if a sanctioned vessel is located outside the United States, making maintenance or insurance payments for the vessel using US dollars could make the vessel subject to US civil or criminal forfeiture, according to Andrew Adams, the head of the task force.
“The forfeiture laws really have some heft in that respect,” Adams told Reuters.

Dating to the outbreak of 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine, the United States has imposed economic sanctions against the Russian government, military, and strategic sectors of the economy.
Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the United States imposed new sanctions against Russia were imposed with renewed effort.
During the 2022 State of the Union Address, American President Joe Biden announced the effort .
“Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who’ve bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more.
The United States - I mean it. The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs.
“We’re joining with European Allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We’re coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

On March 2, 2022, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the formation of Task Force KleptoCapture, an inter-agency effort.
And, on On March 11, 2022, United States President Biden signed Executive Order 14068, “Prohibiting Certain Imports, Exports, and New Investment With Respect to Continued Russian Federation Aggression,” an order of economic sanctions under the United States International Emergency Economic Powers Act against several oligarchs.
The order targeted two properties of Viktor Vekselberg worth an estimated $180 million: an Airbus A319-115 jet and the superyacht Tango.

Viktor Vekselberg is a Ukrainian-born Russian–Cypriot oligarch, billionaire, and businessman. He is the owner and president of Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate. According to Forbes, as of November 2021, his fortune is estimated at $9.3 billion, making him the 262nd richest person in the world.
Vekselberg is close to the Kremlin, overseeing projects to modernise the Russian economy. In April 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on him and 23 other Russian nationals in relation to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, officially freezing up to $2 billion in assets.