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FBI, NYPD search alleged properties of Russian oligarch in New York and Florida

Viktor Vekselberg, Russian billionaire, pauses during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forumin St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, June 7, 2019.

Chris J. Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Federal agents were seen on Thursday morning searching an apartment in a Manhattan high-rise and an estate in the Hamptons that authorities allege are connected to a Russian oligarch who recently had his yacht seized, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and FBI agents along with NYPD detectives were seen carrying boxes during a search of 19 Duck Pond Lane in Southampton, N.Y., and the search of 515 Park Ave. in Manhattan. Records show those properties are linked to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close ally of President Vladimir Putin who heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate with interests in the metals, mining, and tech industries, according to U.S. Treasury Department documents

A search is also underway at a property on Miami’s Fisher Island that authorities say was linked to Vekselberg, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The U.S. seizure of Vekselberg’s $900 million superyacht in early April marked the first under newly imposed Western sanctions targeting assets of Russian elites in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of UkraineVekselberg is one of numerous Russian oligarchs to face sanctions since the start of the war. 

In addition to sanctions, Vekselberg has been the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into allegations of bank fraud. No charges have been filed in that case.

All of Vekselberg’s assets in the U.S. are frozen and American companies are barred from doing business with him and his entities. The Ukrainian-born businessman built his fortune by investing in the aluminum and oil industries in the post-Soviet era.

Vekselberg has long had ties to the U.S., including a green card he once held and homes in New York and Connecticut. He was also questioned in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

A call to an attorney associated with the Hamptons property was not immediately returned Thursday. Attempts to reach a representative for Vekselberg were not immediately successful. 

HSI and FBI confirmed their agents were at those locations but declined further comment. The U.S. Department of Justice and NYPD declined immediate comment.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the location of the U.S. seizure of Vekselberg’s $900 million superyacht.

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