FBI Swoop On Sanction Busting Brit At Barajas Airport

Madrid´s Adolfo Suárez–Madrid Barajas was the scene of an FBI led arrest of a British national accused of facilitating a sanctions-evasion and money-laundering scheme for a Russian oligarch on Monday 23rd January.

Richard Masters, 52, being escorted off the aircraft by US and Spanish officials

The Briton, named by the US Department of Justice as Richard Masters, 52, has a marine maintenance business in Palma de Mallorca.

The department claim that from there he ran a multi-million dollar money-laundering scheme involving the 255ft luxury yacht belonging to Viktor Vekselberg.

The $90 Million yacht, named Tango had been seized by Spain in April 2022, at the request of the US authorities following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Vekselberg, the founder of a Russian energy conglomerate, has been under US sanctions since 2018.

According to the statement released by the US Department of Justice, “Vekselberg bought the Tango in 2011 and has owned it continuously since that time. It further alleges that Vekselberg used shell companies to obfuscate his interest in the Tango to avoid bank oversight into U.S. dollar transactions related thereto”

The Spanish Civil Guard, said that the operation was coordinated with the FBI and the Office of Homeland Security.

The Briton was arrested on the aircraft at Madrid’s Barajas and escorted off by US and Spanish officials.

“The arrested British citizen is the owner and administrator of a trading company based in Mallorca that offers maintenance and administrative services to boats,” the Guardia Civil said.

“Among his clients is a Russian citizen who has been prohibited from operating in US markets and with US financial businesses”.

The Briton is accused of earning an estimated €800,000 through his company for maintaining the oligarch’s yacht in the 5 years since Vekselberg has been on the sanctions list.

“According to the indictment, among other things, Masters devised a scheme to use a false name for the yacht, in order to mask the operation..”

The Civil Guard press statement goes on to say that the US and Spanish authorities claim that US dollar transactions would not have been permitted had they known of Vekselberg’s involvement.

Masters is presently in custody in Madrid awaiting formal extradition proceedings to face trial in the United States.



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