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Arrest and Criminal Charges Against British and Russian Businessmen for Facilitating Sanctions Evasion of Russian Oligarch’s $90 Million Yacht

Yacht Previously Seized and One Arrest Today by Spain at Request of United States

            WASHINGTON – Two businessmen - Vladislav Osipov, 51, a dual Russian and Swiss national, and Richard Masters, 52, a United Kingdom national, are charged in separate indictments, unsealed today in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, with facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme in relation to the ownership and operation of the Motor Yacht (M/Y) Tango (International Maritime Organization number 1010703), a $90 million, 255-foot luxury yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit offenses against the United States, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and money laundering. The United States requested that the Kingdom of Spain provisionally arrest Masters for purposes of extradition. The arrest was executed by the Spanish Guardia Civil today. An arrest warrant against Osipov is outstanding.

            The charges were announced by United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Director Andrew Adams of Task Force KleptoCapture, FBI Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston Sr. of the Minneapolis Field Office, and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo of HSI’s New York Field Office.

            According to the indictment, despite U.S. sanctions issued against Vekselberg in April 2018, Osipov and Masters facilitated the operation of Tango through the use of U.S. companies and the U.S. financial system, attempting to obfuscate Vekselberg’s involvement in the vessel. Osipov, an employee of Vekselberg who functioned as a property manager for Tango, designed a complicated ownership structure of shell companies to hide Vekselberg’s ownership of the yacht, despite that Vekselberg designed the yacht, was the sole user, and was the ultimate beneficial owner.

            Masters ran a yacht management company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. After Vekselberg was sanctioned in April 2018, Masters’s company allegedly took over the management of Tango and conspired with others to evade the U.S. sanctions. According to the indictment, among other things, Masters devised a scheme to use a false name for the yacht, “the Fanta,” in order to hide from financial institutions that payments in U.S. dollars were ultimately for the benefit of Tango and Vekselberg. As a result of this obfuscation, U.S. financial institutions processed hundreds of thousands of dollars of transactions for Tango that they otherwise would not have permitted had they known of Vekselberg’s involvement in the financial transaction. Further, these payments and Vekselberg’s involvement therein were not reported to the Department of the Treasury.

            Additionally, according to the indictment, Osipov and Masters advised and enabled Tango employees to continue to do business with numerous U.S. companies, using various workarounds to avoid sanctions, such as payments in other currencies and through third parties. As a result of these schemes, the working mechanisms of Tango, to include its internet, technology, weather forecasting, and computing systems, as well as the trappings of Tango, including its satellite television, luxury goods, and teleconferencing software, were all U.S.-origin products and services supplied by U.S. companies, for the benefit of Vekselberg. The efforts of these facilitators permitted Tango to continue to operate as a luxury yacht with the full array of services and luxury goods available to it, supported by hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally-obtained U.S. services and U.S. financial transactions, and all for the benefit of Vekselberg.

            “Facilitators of sanctions evasion enable the oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout U.S. law,” said U.S. Attorney Graves. “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.” 

            “The Department of Justice has been clear. Corporations and executives have a choice: they can participate in the global effort to uproot corruption, sanctions violations, and money laundering, and enjoy the benefits of prompt and fulsome cooperation; or they can, as Osipov and Masters are alleged to have done, attempt to shield themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud,” said Director Adams of Task Force KleptoCapture. “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.”

            “The indictment alleges that both defendants used a variety of techniques to mask ownership of the Motor Yacht Tango in violation of U.S. law,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Winston. “Together with the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture Task Force, the FBI will hold accountable those who assist Russian Oligarchs in their efforts to hide assets and violate sanctions. We thank our international partners who helped facilitate the arrest of Richard Masters in Spain earlier today."

            “Russian oligarchs are the product of an ecosystem of corruption that abuses rule-of-law- based monetary structures to enrich themselves with luxury trappings and lifestyles.” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Arvelo. “Today’s actions have demonstrated our commitment to hold those that conduct illicit transactions on behalf of the oligarchs accountable.”

            On April 4, 2022, Spanish law enforcement executed a Spanish court order freezing Tango. The Spanish acted following a request from the Department of Justice that it assist with the execution of a seizure warrant, issued in March 2022 by the  U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which alleged that Tango was subject to forfeiture based on violations of U.S. bank fraud, money laundering, and sanctions statutes.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office. Valuable assistance has been provided by the Homeland Security Investigation’s New York Field Office and the Spanish Guardia Civil - Jefatura de Informacion - Unidad Central Especial Numero III (UCE-III).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen P. Seifert, with valuable assistance provided by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rajbir Datta and Maeghan Mikorski, Paralegals Brian Rickers and Jorge Casillas, and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick, all of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in working with the Spanish authorities throughout this matter.

            The case has been coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with its allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Announced by the Attorney General on March 2 and under the leadership of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the task force will 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.

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The Department of Justice charged 2 men over helping to conceal Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg's ownership of a $90 million superyacht

  • 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.

Insider Today

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.

Related stories

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."

richard masters tango yacht

  • Main content

Briton arrested after 'hiding Russian yacht by changing its name from Tango to Fanta'

Richard Masters and another man allegedly hid large amounts of cash through a multi-million dollar yacht scheme for an oligarch's benefit.

richard masters tango yacht

News reporter @Reemul_B

Wednesday 25 January 2023 11:18, UK

Agents of the Spanish Civil Guard are seen during the detention of UK national Richard Masters, at the request of U.S. authorities, for allegedly facilitating a scheme of sanctions evasion and money laundering in relation to a yacht of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, at the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain, in this handout picture taken January 20 and released January 23, 2023

A British man has been arrested after allegedly helping an oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin evade sanctions.

Richard Masters, 52, was arrested in Spain on Friday, though his co-accused Vladislav Osipov remains at large.

The pair, charged separately, reportedly helped Russian-Cypriot oligarch Viktor Vekselberg evade US sanctions.

The scheme was allegedly facilitated through Mr Vekselberg's 255ft yacht Tango, which is thought to be worth $90m (£73m).

richard masters tango yacht

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) claimed Masters ran a yacht company in Palma de Mallorca and managed Tango after initial sanctions were imposed on Mr Vekselberg in 2018.

Masters allegedly called Mr Vekselberg's yacht "the Fanta" to hide thousands of dollars from banks that would ultimately benefit the oligarch.

richard masters tango yacht

It is claimed Masters and Russian-Swiss Osipov masked Mr Vekselberg's involvement with the yacht, with Osipov using shell companies to hide his ownership.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said both have been charged with multiple offences: Conspiracy to defraud the US and to commit offences against the US; violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); and money laundering.

Mr Vekselberg faced US sanctions in April 2018 following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Tougher measures were imposed on him in March last year after Mr Putin's invasion of Ukraine .

The UK, Australia and Poland also seized Mr Vekselberg's assets in March, imposing travel bans, with the DoJ seizing Tango in Spain a month after.

richard masters tango yacht

US attorney Matthew Graves said: "Facilitators of sanctions evasion enable the oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin's regime to flout US law.

"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."

Andrew Adams, director of the Task Force KleptoCapture department, said Masters had to face the "consequences" of his actions.

He explained that corporations and executives "have a choice" of either fighting against "corruption, sanctions violations, and money laundering" or choosing the path of the accused.

"They can as Osipov and Masters are alleged to have done, attempt to shield themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud," he added.

"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."

Related Topics

  • January 22, 2023
  • Compliance , News

Russia sanctions: Two indicted, one arrested, in Tango yacht case

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Back in April last year, U.S. and Spanish authorities seized the $90 million yacht Tango owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. On Friday, indictments were unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging two men, Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian national, and Richard Masters, 52, a U.K.national,, with facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme in relation to the ownership and operation of the Tango.

VIDEO: U.S. and Spanish authorities seize Russian oligarch’s yacht

Masters has been provisionally arrested by Spain’s Guardia Civil and is being held pending extradition proceedings. An arrest warrant against Osipov is outstanding.

According to the indictments, despite U.S. sanctions issued against Vekselberg in April 2018, Osipov and Masters facilitated the operation of Tango through the use of U.S. companies and the U.S. financial system, attempting to obfuscate Vekselberg’s involvement in the vessel. Osipov, an employee of Vekselberg who functioned as a property manager for Tango, is alleged to have designed a complicated ownership structure of shell companies to hide Vekselberg’s ownership of the yacht, despite that Vekselberg designed the yacht, was the sole user, and was the ultimate beneficial owner.

“The indictment alleges that both defendants used a variety of techniques to mask ownership of the Motor Yacht Tango in violation of U.S. law,” said Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston of the FBI Minneapolis Field Office. “Together with the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture Task Force, the FBI will hold accountable those who assist Russian oligarchs in their efforts to hide assets and violate sanctions. We thank our international partners who helped facilitate the arrest of Richard Masters in Spain earlier today.”

As alleged, Masters ran a yacht management company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. After Vekselberg was sanctioned in April 2018, Masters’s company took over the management of Tango , and conspired with others to evade the U.S. sanctions. According to the indictment, among other things, Masters devised a scheme to use a false name for the yacht, “the Fanta ,” in order to hide from financial institutions that payments in U.S. dollars were ultimately for the benefit of Tango and Vekselberg. As a result of this obfuscation, U.S. financial institutions processed hundreds of thousands of dollars of transactions for Tango that they otherwise would not have permitted had they known of Vekselberg’s involvement. Additionally, these payments and Vekselberg’s involvement were not reported to the Department of the Treasury.

WORK AROUNDS TO AVOID SANCTIONS

Further, according to the indictment, Osipov and Masters advised and enabled Tango employees to continue to do business with numerous U.S. companies, using various workarounds to avoid sanctions, such as payments in other currencies and through third parties.

“As a result of these schemes, the working mechanisms of Tango , to include its internet, technology, weather forecasting and computing systems, as well as the trappings of Tango , including its satellite television, luxury goods, and teleconferencing software, were all U.S.-origin products and services supplied by U.S. companies, for the benefit of Vekselberg,” says the Department of Justice. “The efforts of these facilitators permitted Tango to continue to operate as a luxury yacht with the full array of services and luxury goods available to it, supported by hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally-obtained U.S. services and U.S. financial transactions, and all for the benefit of Vekselberg.”

“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,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “The FBI, along with our international partners, will continue to aggressively investigate and pursue anyone who facilitates the corrupt practices of others, placing our institutions at risk.”

“The Department of Justice has been clear. Corporations and executives have a choice: they can participate in the global effort to uproot corruption, sanctions violations, and money laundering, and enjoy the benefits of prompt and fulsome cooperation; or they can, as Osipov and Masters are alleged to have done, attempt to shield themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud,” said Director Andrew Adams of Task Force KleptoCapture. “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.”

Masters indictment

Osipov indictment

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Brit arrested in Spain for allegedly helping Putin’s oligarch hide 255-foot yacht Tango - by renaming it Fanta

Richard masters, 52, was arrested by the spanish guardia civil on friday, though his russian-swiss co-accused vladislav osipov remains at large, article bookmarked.

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A British man has been arrested in Spain for extradition to the US for allegedly helping an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin evade sanctions.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement that Richard Masters , 52, was arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil last Friday, though his Russian- Swiss co-accused Vladislav Osipov remains at large.

The pair are charged separately, in indictments unsealed in the US District Court in the District of Columbia , with facilitating a scheme for oligarch Viktor Vekselberg connected to his 90-million-dollar (£73 million), 255-foot yacht Tango.

Mr Masters is alleged to have devised a scheme that involved calling the yacht “the Fanta” to hide from banks the hundreds of thousands of pounds in payments in US currency that were ultimately to Mr Vekselberg’s benefit.

Ukraine news – live: Russia decries ‘blatant provocation’ as US and Germany poised to deliver tanks

The DoJ said the pair are charged with conspiracy to defraud the US and to commit offences against the US, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and money laundering.

The US imposed sanctions against Mr Vekselberg in April 2018 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea , with Washington strengthening the measures in March 2022 following Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK, Australia and Poland also joined Washington in March in seizing Mr Vekselberg’s assets and imposing travel bans, with the DoJ the next month seizing Tango in Spain.

Civil Guards accompany U.S. FBI agents and a U.S.Homeland Security agent from the yacht called Tango

The department alleges Mr Masters ran a yacht company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, which he used to manage Tango after initial sanctions were imposed in 2018.

It is claimed Mr Masters and Mr Osipov used US firms and the American financial system to mask Mr Vekselberg’s involvement with the vessel, with Mr Osipov using a complex structure of shell companies to hide ownership.

US Attorney Matthew Graves said: “Facilitators of sanctions evasion enable the oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout US law.

“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.”

These men made their decisions, and now face the consequences of a failed attempt to profit through...a sophisticated, transnational criminal enterprise

Director Andrew Adams of department task force KleptoCapture said Mr Masters had to face the “consequences” of his actions.

“The Department of Justice has been clear. Corporations and executives have a choice: They can participate in the global effort to uproot corruption, sanctions violations, and money laundering, and enjoy the benefits of prompt and fulsome cooperation; or they can, as Osipov and Masters are alleged to have done, attempt to shield themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud,” he said.

“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.”

The Americans’ international partners were thanked for apprehending Masters.

FBI special agent in charge Alvin Winston said: “The FBI will hold accountable those who assist Russian oligarchs in their efforts to hide assets and violate sanctions. We thank our international partners who helped facilitate the arrest of Richard Masters in Spain earlier today.”

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Briton arrested in Spain for allegedly helping oligarch evade sanctions

richard masters tango yacht

A British man has been arrested in Spain for extradition to the US for allegedly helping an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin evade sanctions.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement that Richard Masters , 52, was arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil last Friday, though his Russian-Swiss co-accused Vladislav Osipov remains at large.

The pair are charged separately, in indictments unsealed in the US District Court in the District of Columbia, with facilitating a scheme for oligarch Viktor Vekselberg connected to his 90-million-dollar (£73 million), 255-foot yacht Tango.

The DoJ said the pair are charged with conspiracy to defraud the US and to commit offences against the US, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and money laundering.

The US imposed sanctions against Mr Vekselberg in April 2018 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, with Washington strengthening the measures in March 2022 following Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK, Australia and Poland also joined Washington in March in seizing Mr Vekselberg’s assets and imposing travel bans, with the DoJ the next month seizing Tango in Spain.

The department alleges Mr Masters ran a yacht company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, which he used to manage Tango after initial sanctions were imposed in 2018.

It is claimed Mr Masters and Mr Osipov used US firms and the American financial system to mask Mr Vekselberg’s involvement with the vessel, with Mr Osipov using a complex structure of shell companies to hide ownership.

Mr Masters is alleged to have devised a scheme that involved calling the yacht “the Fanta” to hide from banks the hundreds of thousands of pounds in payments in US currency that were ultimately to Mr Vekselberg’s benefit.

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US Attorney Matthew Graves said: “Facilitators of sanctions evasion enable the oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout US law.

“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.”

Director Andrew Adams of department task force KleptoCapture said Mr Masters had to face the “consequences” of his actions.

“The Department of Justice has been clear. Corporations and executives have a choice: They can participate in the global effort to uproot corruption, sanctions violations, and money laundering, and enjoy the benefits of prompt and fulsome cooperation; or they can, as Osipov and Masters are alleged to have done, attempt to shield themselves and their clients behind a veil of fraud,” he said.

“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.”

The Americans’ international partners were thanked for apprehending Masters.

FBI special agent in charge Alvin Winston said: “The FBI will hold accountable those who assist Russian oligarchs in their efforts to hide assets and violate sanctions. We thank our international partners who helped facilitate the arrest of Richard Masters in Spain earlier today.”

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Brit charged with helping Putin's pal hide Tango yacht by changing name to Fanta

Richard Masters is charged with money laundering and fraud over allegations he and Vladislav Osipov helped oligarch Viktor Vekselberg hide from sanctions through his £73m luxury yacht

Richard Masters was arrested by the Spanish Civil Guard for his alleged involvement in the scheme

  • 09:55, 30 Jan 2023

A Brit has been charged in the US over claims he helped a tycoon pal of Putin's change the name of a £73m yacht to avoid US sanctions.

Richard Masters was arrested on Friday in Spain and is accused alongside Vladislav Osipov, who currently remains at large.

Both allegedly helped Russian-Cypriot oligarch Viktor Vekselberg by hatching a money-laundering plot which would help him evade US sanctions imposed back in 2018.

The alleged scheme is said to centre around Mr Vekselberg's $90m, 255ft luxury yacht named Tango, with Masters managing the boat in Mallorca.

The tycoon, who is a known associate of warlord Vladimir Putin , is a founder of Russian energy conglomerate Renova Group, with an estimated fortune of $5.4bn.

According to US documents, Mr Vekselberg's yacht was seized in April last year and claimed shell companies were used to hide his ownership.

After being imposed with sanctions by the country in April 2018, the billionaire, and those working for him, are accused of making payments through US banks to help with the yacht's upkeep and mooring fees, including for a plush holiday at a luxury Maldives resort in December 2020.

Separate US documents meanwhile claim Masters ran a company in Mallorca managing the yacht, and allege he changed the boat's name from "The Tango" to "The Fanta" in order to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars from the banks to help the billionaire.

Masters, 52, and Osipov are both charged with various offences, including conspiracy to defraud the US and to commit offences against the US, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and money laundering.

Spain's Guardia Civil police confirmed on Friday that a British man was arrested at Madrid airport as part of a joint operation with the FBI and Homeland Security Investigation.

US officials meanwhile issued a warning to Putin's cronies claiming they would no longer be able to hide behind their riches, describing oligarchs such as Mr Vekselberg as a "product of an ecosystem of corruption".

Director Andrew Adams of Task Force KleptoCapture said of Masters and Osipov: "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."

Ivan Arvelo, from Homeland Security, said: "Russian oligarchs are the product of an ecosystem of corruption that abuses rule-of-law-based monetary structures to enrich themselves with the luxury trappings and lifestyles that everyday people only dream of – all the while as thousands of Ukrainians are homeless due to Russia ’s unlawful invasion."

He 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."

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richard masters tango yacht

British man is arrested in Spain and charged with trying to help Putin's billionaire oligarch crony hide $90M megayacht Tango from US sanctions

  • Richard Masters, 52, was arrested Friday and charged with evading US sanctions
  • Masters ran a yacht management company in Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • US officials say he tried to hide Viktor Vekselberg's $90M megayacht, the Tango
  • The 255-foot luxury yacht was seized by FBI and Spanish authorities last April

By Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com

Published: 17:27 EDT, 20 January 2023 | Updated: 17:56 EDT, 20 January 2023

View comments

Richard Masters, 52, was arrested on Friday on charges of violating US sanctions laws

Richard Masters, 52, was arrested on Friday on charges of violating US sanctions laws

A British citizen has been arrested in Spain 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 Viktor Vekselberg's 255-foot luxury yacht , the Tango, from authorities.

An unsealed indictment accuses Masters, who runs a yacht management company, of concocting a phony name, 'the Fanta,' for 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 FBI 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, the Tango (above), from authorities

Masters faces extradition to the US on charges that he tried to hide sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg's 255-foot luxury yacht, 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

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, a conglomerate encompassing metals, mining, tech and other assets.

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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 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'

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

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

A U.S. federal agent and two Civil Guards board the yacht called Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on April 4, 2022

A U.S. 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 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. Graves. 

'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. 

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By SuperyachtNews 23 Jan 2023

It takes two to tango

The arrest of richard masters and vladislav osipov for facilitating sanctions evasion has sent shockwaves through the industry….

Image for article It takes two to tango

On Friday, the 20th of January, the United States Department of Justice announced that they had arrested well-known industry figure Richard Masters, Founder of Master Yachts, and businessman Vladislav Osipov, for facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme. The allegations are in relation to the 77m M/Y Tango which is reportedly owned by the Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The United States requested that the Kingdom of Spain provisionally arrest Masters for purposes of extradition.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit offences against the United States, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and money laundering. However, it should also be noted that an indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

According to various sources, The Guardia Civil arrested Masters in the early hours of Friday morning and was flown to Madrid where he underwent questioning. Richard Masters is yet to be extradited to the US and his company Master Yachts has not yet offered a statement to the press.

richard masters tango yacht

The news all but confirms that the great yacht hunt is far from over. The FBI appear to be relentless in their pursuit of anyone who appears to be in business with any high net-worth Russian individuals, regardless of how many degrees of separation lie between them and Vladamir Putin. With that being said, the yachting industry has continued to deal with sanctioned individuals despite numerous warnings from Western governments.

The political messaging of the sanction fallout has not just been about sanctioning Russians because of the war in Ukraine - this is merely a smaller part of the story wrapped up in a bigger conversation about kleptocrats and their ties with the West. The US Justice Department’s special task force ‘Kleptocapture’ implies that they are seeking to bring justice to anyone who uses their power to steal countries' resources. However, so far, the task force has been primarily focused on those who are involved with high-profile, wealthy Russians.

Many of those operating in the sphere of the industry are arguing that politicians are turning a blind eye to struggling businesses and blue-collar workers in favour of positive PR and self-interest. The sanction fallout is morally correct, but its execution has been strategically flawed and incredibly fast-paced. Rumours have circulated about various renowned businesses continuing to work with Oligarch clients and going as far as relocating to places such as The Middle East under a new name in order to continue to operate. While Masters and Osipov are amongst the first to be arrested, it is unlikely that they will be the last.

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate stated, “The FBI, along with our international partners, will continue to aggressively investigate and pursue anyone who facilitates the corrupt practices of others, placing our institutions at risk.” 

According to the indictment, despite U.S. sanctions issued against Vekselberg in April 2018, Osipov and Masters facilitated the operation of Tango through the use of U.S. companies and the U.S. financial system, attempting to obfuscate Vekselberg’s involvement in the vessel. Spanish law enforcement executed a Spanish court order freezing Tango until April 4, 2022

Masters boldly used the name “the Fanta,” in order to hide from financial institutions. This resulted in the U.S. financial institutions processing hundreds of thousands of dollars of transactions for Tango that they otherwise would not have permitted had they known of Vekselberg’s involvement in the financial transaction. 

Additionally, according to the indictment, Osipov and Masters advised and enabled Tango employees to continue to do business with numerous U.S. companies, using various workarounds to avoid sanctions, such as payments in other currencies and through third parties. As a result of these schemes, the working mechanisms of Tango, including its internet, technology, weather forecasting and computing systems, as well as the trappings of Tango, including its satellite television, luxury goods, and teleconferencing software, were all U.S.-origin products and services supplied by U.S. companies, for the benefit of Vekselberg. 

Whatever an individual's moral stance is on the fairness of these arrests, it appears that the department of justice is using a relatively black-and-white interpretation of the sanctions law, and are not unwilling to exercise the full might of the FBI. The ultimate outcome of Richard Masters and Vladislav Osipov’s court case is yet to be realised, however, it's fair to say that a warning shot has been fired across the bow of the industry.

According to The Mallorca Daily Bulletin , The US authorities had asked the court for his immediate extradition, but the judge, Alejandro Abascal, has not granted this. The prosecutor in the case requested that he be ordered to prison, however, the judge didn't accept this either, so around 2 pm on Saturday his release was decreed.

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77m Feadship yacht Tango

Bank fraud charges announced in connection to Russian-owned superyacht Tango

The United States Department of Justice has announced five new counts of bank fraud against Russian national Vladislav Osipov, in addition to charges previously lodged concerning the ownership and operation of the 77.7-metre Tango . Sanctions were placed against the alleged owner of the yacht, Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, by the United States (US) in April 2018.

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The MY Tango inquiry: Lessons to be learnt

The industry was rocked recently by the news that Richard Masters and Vladislav Osipov were charged with allegedly aiding sanctioned Russian billionaire, Viktor Vekselberg. The US Department of Justice claims the pair ran a money laundering scheme and tried to hide the ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) of the superyacht  MY Tango  through a string of shell companies.

“ What this case really shows us is that we, as an industry, need to be incredibly careful whom we work with,”  James Jaffa, partner and founder, Jaffa & Co tells Superyacht Investor (SYI).  “People need to be 100% sure where the true source of wealth lies.”

It is worth stressing that an indictment is merely an allegation and Masters, the founder of yacht manager Masters Yachts, should be presumed innocent. He is a highly regarded and popular member of the yachting community.

The 255ft (78m) yacht was seized in Mallorca, Spain at the request of the US on April 4th 2022. Its owner, Vekselberg was sanctioned by the US in April 2018, as part of a package of sanctions against Russia after its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election and other  “malign activity”.  The sanctions freeze the billionaire’s assets held under US jurisdiction and prevent American companies from doing business with him.

The FBI claims that Masters operated  Tango  using US companies and financial systems, in an attempt to hide the UBO. Masters was arrested by Spanish authorities on Friday, January 20th. A warrant for the arrest of Osipov has also been issued. The case has been led by the FBI and the US Justice Department’s KleptoCapture Task Force, aimed at enforcing US sanctions abroad.

Paul Abbate, deputy director, FBI said on January 20th: “ 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.” 

The US government says that Masters took over the management of the vessel and conspired with Osipov and others to evade the US sanctions.

“I’m not surprised at all when I hear of allegations like this,”  one industry source tells SYI.  “You hear stories all the time about people continuing to work with Russians that have been sanctioned.”

Other industry leaders felt differently. “ I was pretty shocked when I heard the news if I am honest,”  says a British lawyer.  “The situation could be down to anything, but it seems there   may have simply made an error of judgement.”

US authorities also allege that Masters changed the vessel’s name to  Fanta  to hide payments in US dollars linked to  Tango . US institutions are said to have processed hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Russian oligarch as a result, giving US authorities grounds to arrest the British national.

Another industry source tells us: “ You can’t just disregard sanctions. You could perhaps argue that an individual might ignore them, risking everything, because the owner is an important client and brings in a lot of business. But you simply can’t just ignore them because of that or because you disagree with them.”

There could be an argument for disregarding the sanctions if an individual operated solely within countries like Turkey or the United Arab Emirates, adds our source. “ But not if you are a British gent working in Spain. That is just crazy. And there are extradition treaties that  [the US]  will use if they have to.”

Masters potentially faces extradition to the US. One industry source tells SYI these are familiar waters.  “Remember the trade for Brittney Griner and the Russian arms dealer? When you break US laws, they will find you. And they will extradite you.”  The arms dealer, Viktor Bour, was arrested by US authorities in Thailand on terrorism charges in 2008.

David Hernandez, partner, Vedder Price, is happy to speak on the record.

“ These sanctions are real and need to be taken very seriously. People who don’t, get caught. Period. That’s a fact,”  he tells us. “ You can’t just hide millions of dollars worth of assets and expect to get away with it.”

So, what lessons can the industry learn from the case?  “Simply put, it is not worth the risk. Why risk everything for a $100,000 commission?”  says Hernandez.  “Is it worth losing your liberty? Your reputation? No, of course not.”

With the charges for Masters and Osipov potentially leading to a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty, it is a stark reminder that the industry has to take great care in choosing with whom it does business.

“ What we have to take away from this, no matter what the outcome, is that we, as an industry, must take incredible care with understanding who our clients really are,”  says Jaffa .

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Masters Institute in San Jose.

Discussion in ' General Distance Learning Discussions ' started by Frangop , Apr 21, 2001 .

Frangop

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The California Department of Consumer Affairs has joined forces with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Education to help approximately 2,000 students who were locked out of classes at Masters Institute in San Jose. Masters Institute closed its doors without notice midnight Monday, giving students a bitter lesson about continuing their education at Masters Institute. Representatives of Consumer Affairs' Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE), the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Education will meet with students on Friday, March 9th, at the County Government Center in San Jose. The informational meeting will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Board Chambers (East Wing), First Floor, 70 West Hedding St. in San Jose. Representatives will advise students about their rights and protections in cases of unexpected school closures. BPPVE representatives are now engaged in ongoing discussions with Masters Institute to ensure the school keeps students informed of their rights and educational options. Bureau Chief Michael Abbott said: "Student rights and protections are our primary concern. We're moving quickly to resolve this matter in the best interest of students. This informational meeting is a good first step. Additionally we are working closely with the U.S. Department of Education to make sure the students are protected." On Tuesday, March 6, 2001, students were shut out of Masters Institute classrooms and found a notice posted on the Web site stating, "Unforeseen operational circumstances have necessitated that the Masters Institute temporarily cease operations as of midnight, March 5, 2001. …" Masters Institute is a private educational institution offering classroom and long-distance learning programs in computer sciences. The State Department of Education first licensed Masters Institute in April 1973. BPPVE granted re-approval from January 2000 through December 2004. The Bureau regulates private postsecondary and vocational schools in California.  

Rich Douglas

Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

Originally posted by Frangop: The California Department of Consumer Affairs has joined forces with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Education to help approximately 2,000 students who were locked out of classes at Masters Institute in San Jose. Click to expand...

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Like Retta, Linklater has had a front row seat to the actor’s glow-up, going from casting a teenage Powell in 2006’s “Fast Food Nation,” then reuniting for 2016’s “Everybody Wants Some” to co-writing “Hit Man” together.

“The industry doesn’t really have a place for that the way they used to; they don’t make adult films that require that they’re making such juvenile material, that his kind of performance doesn’t always have a place in,” he notes. “It’s fun to see it align. It’s overdue, but it’s good that it’s happening.”

Powell chuckles at the hashtag-ready phrase, but he’s quick to put his recent hot streak in perspective.

“What I would say to anybody that really, wants to do this job is that anything that’s worth it sometimes takes time, and in hindsight, all the failure on the way to this moment has been so important,” Powell says. “Getting to watch how people develop movies and learn from my heroes and learn from people that are doing it right and learn from people that are doing it wrong, on and off screen, I’ve really had the benefit of a lot of education. And that comes from failure.”

“HIt Man” asks Powell to use all those abilities Linklater and Retta call out – hard work, humor and a good, old-fashioned bit of charm — to play Gary Johnson, a strait-laced college professor who works part time with the New Orleans police department as a fake hit man. But the hottest thing about “Hit Man” is Powell’s chemistry with Adria Arjona . She plays Madison, a woman who’s looking to have her abusive husband killed but instead steals Gary’s heart (though he’s in character as as a suave, devil-may-care hunk named Ron).

The movie is inspired by the unbelievable true story of the late Gary Johnson, a Texas man who worked for the Houston police department posing as a contract killer; Johnson’s story was captured in a 2001 Texas Monthly article. As adapted for the screen by Linklater and Powell, “Hit Man” is a noir romantic comedy that plays up the slapstick humor when Powell transforms into a slew of hit men customized for each client — among the internet’s favorites include killer who’s a dead ringer for “American Psycho’s” Patrick Bateman, as well as Powell’s best red-wigged Tilda Swinton impression and a Russian killer who is basically Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh from “No Country for Old Men” with a splash of “The Room’s” Tommy Wiseau.

Arjona — who is sitting beside Powell with his dog Brisket on her lap — says she liked “Tanner,” a skeet-shooting redneck who’s missing a few front teeth, best. “There’s just something about him; you want to get to know him,” she jokes.

But all the disguises and the sexy role play that becomes a big part of Gary and Madison’s relationship are part of a deeper theme Powell and Linklater aimed to explore about the concept of identity and how one can become one’s best self.

“When Rick and I were breaking this movie, we talked about the tropes of thrillers and noir movies, and how some will have these nihilistic bummers of an ending. [We thought,] ‘Okay, what if this was actually the beginning of a family? What if this was the beginning of a beautiful love story?’” Powell says. “This concept of identity and self is so interesting, because as you move through life, so often people describe us as an identity that we almost feel stuck in. We almost become derivatives of those labels. This movie is really saying, “Hey, become the label you want you to put out there. Own your identity. Seize that identity.”

Take Gary and Madison’s “meet cute,” for instance. They meet at a diner to discuss arrangements to kill her husband, but quickly fall into familiar and flirty banter.

But for all these weighty ideas to work, there had to be crackling chemistry between the two leads — and thankfully Arjona had a great idea for developing that. The actor pitched Powell and Linklater on a Pinterest board where they could share images from their favorite movies and art to get a sense of each other’s tastes while writing the script.

“Everyone finds different things sensual,” Arjona explains. “It was interesting to see both of our perspectives, hone in and start molding it from that sense. It sparked conversations that you wouldn’t normally have, because we were in the process of creating it.”

Powell agrees, saying the unique form of collaboration helped the intimate moments feel more integrated into the story, almost as if storyboarding the emotional journey the characters would take.

“So often, sex scenes feel almost divorced from the movie, like a marketing play or it feels icky,” he says. “In this movie, those scenes are crucial in the changing and seizing of identity. You have to see a guy who sees the world in such a binary, stale place checking logic at the door and becoming a whole new person. This romantic relationship is really expediting it. It’s the catalyst for everything.”

The only thing Arjona didn’t really factor in was having to play out those fantasies. “It was three brains working, and then it was like, ‘Oh, wait, I’m the one that has to put the flight attendant outfit on now.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, God, I did this to myself,’” she laughs. “It was beautiful and intentional. It didn’t feel like we were just doing sex scenes just to do sex scenes; it came from a creative place.”

For as artistic and well-conceived as they were, filming the movie’s sex scenes did prove complicated. Arjona and Powell ended up “with a crazy rash” after filming in a bathtub, because someone added Dawn dish soap to the water and it stripped their skin of its natural oils. Then there’s the scene where Madison pours wine down her naked body and “Ron” kisses it off. That one came from an image Arjona posted on the board and pushed to have in the film.

“There was something about the silhouette and the wine on her neck and him drinking it that felt so sensual and beautiful,” Arjona says recalling the image of a woman in a strapless dress in an intimate embrace with her lover. “We were like, ‘How can we bring that to life?’”

So, at three in the morning on a hot New Orleans night, Powell and Arjona embarked on that task as their final setup of the day.

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    Two businessmen, Vladislav Osipov, 51, a Russian national, and Richard Masters, 52, a United Kingdom national, are charged in separate indictments unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, with facilitating a sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme in relation to the ownership and operation of the Motor Yacht (M/Y) Tango (International Maritime Organization ...

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    'Hit Man' stars Glen Powell and Adria Arjona on his hot streak at the movies and how her idea for a shared Pinterest helped build their chemistry.