Viktor Vekselberg, Russian Billionaire, Was Questioned by Mueller’s Investigators – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — When the United States sought to punish last month for its election interference and other aggressions, it targeted some of Russia’s wealthiest men, imposing sanctions on those viewed as enriching themselves off President Vladimir V. Putin’s government.

Now it turns out that one of the men, Viktor F. Vekselberg, was also singled out in another of the efforts to confront Russia’s election interference: the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Federal agents working with Mr. Mueller stopped Mr. Vekselberg, a billionaire businessman, at a New York-area airport this year, searched his electronic devices and questioned him, according to people familiar with the matter. They confronted him after he stepped off a private plane about two months ago, according to one of the people.

There is no indication that Mr. Mueller suspects Mr. Vekselberg of wrongdoing. But Mr. Vekselberg attended the presidential inauguration last year, and the interest in him suggests that the special counsel has intensified his focus on potential connections between Russian oligarchs and the Trump campaign and inaugural committee.

Though it is unclear what prompted Mr. Mueller’s investigators to approach Mr. Vekselberg, his widespread corporate interests and attendance at Mr. Trump’s inauguration are among the potential avenues for examination. Mr. Vekselberg also attended a December 2015 dinner in Russia where Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, was also among the guests and sat beside Mr. Putin. The dinner was hosted by RT, the English-language television news network financed by the Kremlin.

Mr. Flynn was ousted weeks after the inauguration amid revelations that he misled the vice president and others about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to the F.B.I. and is cooperating with the special counsel.

Another potential area of interest for Mr. Mueller is Mr. Vekselberg’s business in Cyprus, the Mediterranean nation considered a magnet for Russian money. Mr. Vekselberg has controlled a company that has been the largest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. Around the same time that Mr. Vekselberg was investing in the bank, Mr. Trump’s future commerce secretary, Wilbur L. Ross, was its vice chairman.

 

 

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