Sanctions against billionaires: what will happen to the oligarch yachts

Status: 03/03/2022 6:29 p.m

Russian oligarchs bring their luxury yachts to countries where they are not threatened with confiscation. A ship has now been confiscated in France. There is also at least one yacht in the port of Hamburg.

Thanks to the latest sanctions list, the European Union (EU) can freeze assets of Russian oligarchs with the help of member countries. And that doesn’t just include accounts: A special transatlantic task force with the US, the EU Commission, Canada, France, Italy and Germany is supposed to track down and collect private jets, luxury apartments and yachts belonging to the super-rich who are loyal to the Kremlin. The authorities of the EU member states are responsible for enforcing the sanctions. France has already taken action.

French customs confiscated the yacht of Igor Sechin, head of the Russian state oil company Rosneft, on the Mediterranean coast today. This happened “as part of the European sanctions against Russia,” said the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Paris. The yacht “Amore Vero” (“True Love”) officially belongs to a group in which Sechin is the main shareholder. The 61-year-old has been a close confidante of Russian President Putin since the 1990s and, like 25 other billionaires, is on the EU sanctions list.

Seized shortly before departure

The yacht was in the port of La Ciotat on the Côte d’Azur near Marseille and should have been repaired there by April. At the time of the action against the yacht, the ship was reportedly being prepared to leave port – despite the ongoing repair work. However, customs then shut them down last night and confiscated them.

According to specialist media, it is an 86-meter yacht with seven luxury suites, a cinema, a beauty salon and a garage for ski boats. Her estimated purchase price: $120 million. The French Côte d’Azur has been a popular place to stay for the Russian upper class since the mid-19th century.

The luxury yacht “Amore Vero” was confiscated in France.

Image: imago/Peter Seyfferth

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire had previously announced that he would confiscate the possessions of sanctioned Russians in France. The legal prerequisites for this will be created. They are working on an overview of the financial assets, real estate, yachts and luxury vehicles of Russians in France, who are already subject to sanctions. “We will also identify any Russian persons with assets in France who could still be put on the European sanctions list because of their close ties to the Russian government.”

Usmanow yacht at Blohm + Voss

The superyacht owned by a Russian oligarch is also docked in the port of Hamburg: the “Dilbar” owned by Alisher Usmanow, a 68-year-old entrepreneur with an estimated fortune of $16.8 billion. The ship is being repaired and maintained at the Blohm + Voss shipyard, a subsidiary of the Lürssen Group in Bremen. The yacht was built there in 2016.

Forbes magazine reported that employees working on the ship had already stopped coming to work. According to the authorities, the ship was not confiscated. “As far as we know, the yacht has not been confiscated,” said a spokeswoman for the Hamburg Economic Authority. The Federal Ministry of Economics also confirmed such a measure at the request of not.

The yacht “Dilbar” owned by the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

Image: picture alliance/dpa

The “Handelsblatt” reported, however, that the authorities wanted to confiscate a total of three luxury yachts in the port of Hamburg – in addition to the “Dilbar”, the ships “Luna” and “Solandge”. In any case, the yachts will probably not be able to leave the Hanseatic city any time soon. Before they can expire, a so-called export decree is required. The Hamburg economic authority emphasized that NDR, a decision will not be made in the city at all. Instead, the Federal Ministry of Economics in Berlin and the General Customs Directorate in Bonn are responsible. The customs authorities would only grant the release once the ownership situation had been clarified.

“Dilbar” has been in Hamburg since October

Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs, Michael Westhagemann, had previously announced that Russian yachts would not simply be allowed to leave the port of Hamburg: “All goods going to Russia must be applied for at customs. That also applies to yachts, and that’s why no yachts go out anymore. ”

The 156 meter long and 24 meter wide “Dilbar” has been at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg for conversion since the end of October. Usmanov is said to have paid around $600 million for the luxury yacht. In terms of gross tonnage, the nearly 16,000-ton ship is the largest motor yacht in the world. In normal times, the crew consists of 96 people. The yacht features 12 suites, a 25 meter swimming pool and two helipads.

The billionaire Usmanov, once a major shareholder in the London football club FC Arsenal and until yesterday also the world president of the fencing association, heads the USM holding, which has interests in the iron ore and steel giant Metalloinvest and the consumer electronics company Xiaomi. It also makes money from smaller investments in the telecommunications, mining and media sectors. Usmanow is also said to own luxury real estate in Munich. He was one of Facebook’s early investors.

Putin yacht back in Russia

Until recently, Putin’s yacht “Graceful” was also being overhauled in the Blohm + Voss docks in the Port of Hamburg. However, the Russian President had them brought back to Russia before the attack on Ukraine. The 80 meter long ship is now to be in the Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad.

Until recently in Hamburg: Vladimir Putin’s yacht “Graceful”.

Image: picture alliance / dpa

At least five superyachts belonging to Russian billionaires were anchored or moving near the Maldives yesterday, data from ship-tracking services showed. The Indian Ocean island nation has no extradition treaty with the United States.

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