Feds Move to Seize Viktor Vekselberg's Fisher Island Properties | Miami New Times

Feds Plan to Seize Russian Oligarch's Luxe Fisher Island Properties

The feds say Viktor Vekselberg's friend quietly funneled money into the U.S. to maintain Vekselberg's properties on Miami's exclusive Fisher Island.
Viktor Vekselberg (center) in San Jose, California, on June 23, 2010, signing an agreement with Cisco to extend its $100 million commitment to the Russian Skolkovo Project. Then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev looks on.
Viktor Vekselberg (center) in San Jose, California, on June 23, 2010, signing an agreement with Cisco to extend its $100 million commitment to the Russian Skolkovo Project. Then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev looks on. Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty

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In place of a billionaire Russian oligarch and his friend, Fisher Island residents' newest neighbors may be a pack of federal agents.

On February 24, New York federal prosecutors moved to seize a half-dozen stateside properties owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a high-profile Russian businessman with close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The $75 million worth of real estate includes apartments in New York and Miami's exclusive Fisher Island, which were funded and maintained by Vekselberg's friend in a scheme to circumvent U.S. sanctions, according to a civil forfeiture complaint (attached at the bottom of this story).

A sprawling $31.7 million, seven-bedroom penthouse in the Palazzo Del Sol complex is among the properties marked for seizure on Fisher Island, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the nation.

The United States first sanctioned Vekselberg in 2018 under an expansion of the list of Russian oligarchs subject to U.S. financial restrictions over Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. He has since been barred from conducting business in America without a special license.

"For years, Russia's weaponization of corruption has relied on opaque legal structures – and Western enablers – to move, hide, and spend stolen wealth, enriching its oligarchs and ultimately resourcing the war in the Ukraine," New York Homeland Security Investigations special agent Ivan J. Arvelo said upon announcing the complaint. "Today, we continue our active measures and remove jewels from the crown of yet another oligarch, stripping him of the luxury assets he so cherishes."

Since the start of Russia's brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, the U.S. and its allies have cracked down on wealthy, Kremlin-linked oligarchs with sanctions, economic penalties, and seizures of their priciest possessions, including superyachts, sports teams — and in this case, luxury properties.
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Left: The sister residences where Vekselberg purchased a penthouse in 2017. Right: The Palazzo Del Mare condo, where he purchased two units in 2010.
Via Miami-Dade Property Appraiser
According to the complaint, Vekselberg snapped up six properties through a series of shell companies based in Panama and the Bahamas between 2008 and 2017 — including two apartment units and the massive penthouse on Fisher Island, Miami's wealthy enclave accessible only by boat. In 2010, he allegedly purchased the two apartment units at the ten-story Palazzo Del Mare condo for $6.2 million; in 2017, he bought the seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom penthouse next door for $31.2 million, prosecutors say.

The Ukranian-born tycoon, 65, is the owner of the Russian conglomerate Renova Group, which does business in the aluminum, oil, and energy sectors. Forbes estimates his net worth at $6.9 billion.

The complaint also names Vekselberg's business partner Vladimir Voronchenko, an art dealer and longtime friend of Vekselberg whom prosecutors accuse of funneling millions into the U.S. to maintain the New York and Miami properties after Vekselberg was sanctioned.

Between June 2018 and March 2022, the complaint alleges, roughly $4 million was transferred from a Bahamian bank account held in the name of Voronchenko's company, Smile Holdings, and from a Russian account maintained by Voronchenko's relative in order to pay taxes, maintenance charges, insurance premiums, and other costs related to the properties.

Voronchenko allegedly tried to sell the Park Avenue and Southampton properties between August 2020 and December 2021 without U.S. approval, violating sanctions laws.

According to the complaint, Voronchenko lived in several of the properties over the years, including one of the Fisher Island apartments. In 2010, he and a family member applied for membership at a Fisher Island members-only beach club.

Last May, federal agents served Voronchenko a grand jury subpoena on Fisher Island, calling for him to testify and provide documents related to the properties. But more than a week later, he took off on a flight from Miami to Dubai — and although he was scheduled to return to Miami later that month, he instead traveled to Moscow, Russia, federal prosecutors say.

Voronchenko failed to appear before the grand jury on May 31, 2022, as required by the subpoena. As of late February, he has yet to return to the U.S. He was indicted on charges of money laundering and sanctions violations earlier this month.

Vekselberg's 254-foot megayacht Tango, valued at $120 million, was previously seized by U.S. federal agents in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
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