The $90 million 255-foot yacht was seized by US authorities in Spain last April (Photo: AP)

A Briton has been arrested and charged with helping a Russian oligarch evade sanctions imposed over his close ties to Vladimir Putin.

Richard Masters, 52, and his Russian-Swiss co-defendant Vladislav Osipov, 51, reportedly tried to hide Viktor Vekselberg’s connection to his 75-meter yacht Tango.

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The couple, who ran a yachting business in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, managed Tango for Vekselberg.

But the US imposed sanctions on Vekselberg in April 2018 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and tightened measures against him last March after he invaded Ukraine.

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Britain, Australia and Poland joined Washington in seizing Vekselberg’s assets and imposing travel bans that same month.

The US Department of Justice has accused Masters and Osipov of continuing to manage Tango despite these sanctions.

The pair reportedly plotted to hide who owned the $90 million (£73 million) yacht, including changing her name to ‘The Fanta’.

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Masters was arrested for continuing to manage Tango after his owner was penalized (Photo: Facebook)

It is also alleged that Masters and Osipov used the US financial system to develop a complex structure of fake companies to hide ownership.

The plan also allegedly helped hide from the banks the hundreds of thousands of pounds in payments Vekselberg received.

The US seized Tango last April and charged Masters and Osipov with conspiracy to commit fraud and crimes against the US, violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and money laundering.

Masters was arrested last Friday by the Spanish Guardia Civil, but Osipov is still a fugitive.

Briton Vladislav Osipov has been arrested in Spain for helping an oligarch close to Putin evade sanctions

Vladislav Osipov has also been charged, but he has yet to be caught and arrested by the authorities

(FILES) This file contains a photo taken on June 3, 2021. Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg.  - The US filed criminal charges on January 20, 2023 against two men who allegedly tried to protect sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg's $90 million superyacht from being seized.  (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP) (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP via Getty Images)

Viktor Vekselberg was sanctioned after he annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine (Photo: Getty)

U.S. attorney Matthew Graves said: “Silence circumvention instigators enable oligarchs who support Vladimir Putin’s regime to flout U.S. laws.

“The United States will not allow its financial institutions and individuals to be manipulated or defrauded for the benefit of those who support an illegal war.”

Andrew Adams, Division Task Force KleptoCapture leader, said: “Companies and leaders have a choice: they can join the global effort to eradicate corruption, sanctions violations and money laundering and reap the benefits of prompt and complete cooperation; or they could try, as Osipov and Masters would have done, to protect themselves and their customers behind a veil of fraud.

“These men have made their choices and now face the consequences of a failed attempt to profit from a vast, transnational criminal enterprise rather than fight back.”

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