Europe Officials Seize Multi-Million-Dollar Superyachts of Russian Billionaire Businessmen

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Authorities in Europe have seized two superyachts belonging to Russian businessmen with alleged close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to multiple reports.

Authorities in France on Thursday seized a yacht they linked to the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin, in the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

“Thanks to the French customs officers who are enforcing the European Union’s sanctions against those close to the Russian government,” Le Maire said on Twitter alongside a letter.

According to Agence France-Presse, the letter states that French authorities seized the Amore Velo yacht in La Ciotat on March 2 in compliance with sanctions by the European Union against Russia.

The 280-foot (85.6-meter) yacht, which includes a swimming pool that turns into a helipad, was owned by a company “in which Sechin is the main shareholder,” the letter reads.

Sechin is yet to publicly comment on the seizure.

In a separate seizure on Thursday, French authorities took another cargo vessel in the port of Loiret, Brittany, which was also linked to Russian interests, Reuters reported.

Elsewhere, on Wednesday, German authorities also reportedly seized a $600 million superyacht belonging to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

Usmanov was among a string of billionaires sanctioned by the European Union in response to Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy, and transport sector, as well as its export controls and visa policy.

The Uzbek-born Russian business-magnate and oligarch owns a 49 percent stake in USM, a Russian investment group that controls Metalloinvest, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, and telecommunications company MegaFon.

Usmanov, who is the sixth-richest Russian, with a fortune of $19.5 billion according to Bloomberg’s wealth index, also has stakes in JD.com and Uber Technologies and controls Kommersant, a Russian newspaper.

The businessman had his assets frozen by the EU on Tuesday and his yacht, the Dilbar, was seized by authorities in Hamburg where it had been undergoing refitting since late October, according to multiple reports.

The 512-foot (156-meter) yacht was built in 2016 and is regarded as the largest motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage, Forbes reported. It is typically manned by a crew of 96 people and has been designed to comfortably accommodate up to 24 guests in 12 suites. The boat is estimated to be worth $594 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

EU officials branded Usmanov a “pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin” and said he has “been referred to as one of Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs.”

“He is considered to be one of Russia’s businessmen-officials, who were entrusted with servicing financial flows, but their positions depend on the will of the president. Mr. Usmanov has reportedly fronted for President Putin and solved his business problems,” officials said.

“According to FinCEN files he paid $6 million to Vladimir Putin’s influential adviser Valentin Yumashev. Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia and former president and prime minister of Russia, benefited from the personal use of luxurious residences controlled by Mr. Usmanov.”

“Therefore he actively supported materially or financially Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine,” EU officials said.

Usmanov hit out at the decision in a statement on Tuesday in which he said the EU’s actions were “unfair” and claimed he had become the “target of restrictive measures” by the EU.

“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,” he said.

Katabella Roberts

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Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.





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