A luxury superyacht valued at 50 million of dollars, owned by a Russian tycoon, was seized in London in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, Britain’s national crime-fighting agency NCA reported on Tuesday.
The confiscation of the “Phi”, equipped with swimming pool and wine cellar, It comes after the UK sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities in recent weeks in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She is the first luxury yacht seized in British waters.
Although its owner – whose identity was not revealed – is not sanctioned in the UK, the British parliament recently approved new powers allowing the executive to retain ships controlledchartered or operated by persons associated with Russia.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps posted a photo on Twitter in which he poses in front of the “Phi”, the third largest yacht built by the Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman, 58 meters long, valued at 38 million pounds (50 million of dollars).
“This government will continue to take forceful measures against anyone who has connections with the “Russian regime”, they tweeted from the agency. This seizure, in the waters of the River Thames in London’s Canary Wharf business district, is a “clear warning” to Putin, he said.
According to the NCA, the identity of the ship’s true owner was concealed, but investigators were able to trace it.
The vessel was registered in Saint Kitts and Nevis, a small tax haven in the Caribbean, and carried a Maltese flag “to hide its origin”, according to the NCA.
They highlighted the “vital role” in “searching for suspicious assets, going after facilitators of illicit wealth, and supporting government partners in enforcing the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine”.
A repeating practice
Other European countries have recently seized luxury yachts belonging to Kremlin-linked oligarchs.
A few weeks ago, the French government seized a yacht, owned by a company linked to Igor Sechin, chairman of the Russian oil group Rosneft, at a shipyard in La Ciotat, southern France.
“The French customs proceeded to seize the yacht ‘Amore Vero’ in La Ciotat, in the framework of the application of the sanctions of the European Union against Russia,” the French Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
This luxurious yacht, 86 meters long, and whose main bridge can be transformed into a heliport, arrived in La Ciotat on January 3. It was immobilized in the shipyards until April 1 to undergo repairs.
Last Thursday, the captain of the Roman Abramovich’s $600 million superyacht hastily left a port in Montenegro to avoid seizure.
The Wall Street Journal reported that on March 12, just two days after the Russian oligarch was sanctioned by the UK, his yacht arrived in Montenegro from Barcelona. The ship’s captain had planned to refuel in the port of Tivat, but the yacht left in a hurry on March 13 without refueling.