By Kara Scannell, Sonia Moghe, Rod Griola and Samantha Beech, CNN
Federal agents have searched a high-rise apartment in New York City’s affluent Park Avenue and a New York Southhampton estate Thursday connected to a Russian oligarch who recently had his yacht seized, sources told CNN.
The Russian owner of the properties is Viktor Vekselberg, one source told CNN. Vekselberg has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another source familiar with the matter said multiple raids happened simultaneously in New York City, Southampton, and Florida, targeting multiple designees from the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
CNN filmed agents dressed in jackets marked “Police HSI” as they were removing items from the Park Avenue property Thursday afternoon. According to its website, the HSI is the principal investigative arm of the US Department of Homeland Security responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats. At least two large safes and other items were removed from the Park Avenue property and placed in a car, according to a CNN photojournalist who filmed video of the seizure.
Vekselberg is a Russian national and the founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Renova Group, according to US court documents. Vekselberg has a history of allegations and lawsuits lodged against him in various jurisdictions due to his business practices, according to the documents. In 2018, Vekselberg was sanctioned as one of seven Russian oligarchs designated by the US Department of Treasury’s OFAC in response to what it called “worldwide malign activity.”
In April, a 255-foot luxury yacht owned by the Russian billionaire was seized by Spanish law enforcement at the request of US officials. The case marked the first seizure by a newly formed US task force that’s dedicated to cracking down on sanctions violators in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The New York City Police Department told CNN it was not responding to anything at the address in Park Avenue Thursday.
The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) did not respond to CNN requests for comment.
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