German police investigating Russian billionaire Usmanov search yacht

FILE PHOTO: Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov walks out of a voting booth at a polling station during the presidential election in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

BERLIN (Reuters) -German police investigating money laundering accusations against Russian billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov have searched a motor yacht in northern Germany, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Prosecutors did not identify the yacht or its owner but described him as a 69-year-old Russian businessman and said he was the target of the same investigation as last week, when police raided a lakeside villa registered to Usmanov.

Usmanov's representatives were not immediately available to comment on Tuesday's yacht raid. In a statement on Monday, his press office rejected the allegations against him as "baseless and defamatory".

He is on an EU sanctions list freezing his assets and banning him from travel in the bloc because of links to the Russian state.

Prosecutors said the yacht's owner was suspected of having carried out millions of euros worth of financial transactions between 2017 and 2022 to conceal the origin of funds originating from criminal offences, in particular tax evasion.

Usmanov, who is active across a range of business sectors and has a net worth of $14.6 billion, according to Forbes, is at the centre of two separate investigations into his finances in Germany.

The NDR broadcaster reported last week that a 156-metre-long yacht, the Dilbar, which authorities say belongs to Usmanov's sister and is also subject to sanctions, was towed from the port of Hamburg to Bremen overnight because the shipyard where it had been moored needed space.

The federal criminal police office has said it is worth half a billion euros.

(Reporting by Alexander MarrowWriting by Rachel MoreEditing by Madeline Chambers and Peter Graff)

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