Superyacht Seizing Spree Continues As Authorities Target Rich Russians

Not so smooth sailing...

Superyacht Seizing Spree Continues As Authorities Target Rich Russians

As Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine continues, the world continues to stand up in defiance. Although many argue the US and the international community should be doing more, harsh sanctions have come in. These have, among other things, reduced the Ruble to less than a cent and sparked fear among Russians that if Putin’s invasion of Ukraine continues, Russia will become financially, culturally and politically isolated.

In response to this uncertainty, billionaire Roman Abramovich has put Chelsea football club up for sale.

Speaking of hasty moves, one Ukrainian yacht worker recently went viral trying to sink his (Russian) boss’s vessel. And it’s not just wayward workers making Russian superyacht owners think twice: a number of Russian superyachts have come under the scrutiny of authorities as sanctions kick in.

Forbes recently reported that the Dilbar, a 512-foot, $600 million yacht owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, had been seized in Germany, working off the information of three sources. They since issued a correction stating that the Ministry for Economy and Innovation in Hamburg says the authorities have not seized the Dilbar, but rather work on the ship has been halted.

“Three sources had told Forbes it had been seized, but a representative for Usmanov cited the statement from the ministry in Hamburg to confirm that it had not. In its statement, the ministry elaborated that the German federal customs agency is the ‘responsible enforcement authority’ and would have to issue an export waiver for the yacht to leave, and that ‘no yacht leaves port that is not allowed to do so.'”


According to Forbes, because the yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and owned through a holding company, it is difficult for the authorities to tie it directly to Usmanov for the purpose of sanctions. 

Image Credit: AutoEvolution

Usmanov spoke out against the sanctions in a statement to the International Fencing Federation. He wrote: “I believe that such decision is unfair, and the reasons employed to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honor, dignity, and business reputation.”

“I will use all legal means to protect my honor and reputation.”


Usmanov isn’t the only Russian billionaire to be impacted by sanctions. CNBC reports that French authorities seized a massive yacht they say is linked to Igor Sechin, a Russian billionaire who previously served as Russia’s deputy Prime Minister (and who is apparently known in Russian business circles as “Darth Vader”), and who is CEO of state oil company Rosneft.

The seizures come at the same time the U.S. Justice Department has announced a new ‘KleptoCapture’ task force that will help enforce sanctions.

These aren’t the only two billionaires who have to worry about their boats being battered by sanctions: Forbes and yacht valuation experts VesselsValue say there are 32 of them out there.

Reuters recently observed that ship tracking data shows “at least five other superyachts owned by Russian billionaires are anchored or cruising in the Maldives,” a nation where there is no extradition treaty with the United States.

Not so smooth sailing indeed…

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