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Escaping sanctions, oligarchs look for a safe harbor for superyachts

Dilver is flagged in the Cayman Islands and is registered with the Maltese holding company. At the shelters of two secret banks in Malta, the world’s ultra-rich people often store wealth.

Still, what you own is often an open secret in the industry that corresponds to the exclusive clubs of Billionaire and Sentimillionaire who can afford to buy, crew and maintain a superyacht.

AP has worked with UK-based yacht valuation company Vessels Value to create a list of 56 superyachts (generally defined as luxury vessels over 24 meters (79 feet) in length). The combined market value is estimated to be over US $ 5.4 billion.

AP then used two online services (VesselFinder and MarineTraffic) to plot the last known location of the yacht relayed by the onboard tracking beacon.

Many are still moored in or near the sunny playgrounds of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, but more than 12 are underway at remote ports in small countries such as the Maldives and Montenegro, beyond the scope of western sanctions. , Has already arrived. The three are moored in Dubai, where many wealthy Russians have vacation homes.

The other three went dark and the transponder finally pinged just outside Turkey’s Bosphorus. This is the gateway to the Black Sea and the ports of Sochi and Novorossiysk in southern Russia.

Graceful, a German-made Russian superyacht believed to be owned by Putin, left the Hamburg repair shop on February 7, two weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, and is now in the Baltic Sea of ​​Russia. It is moored at the port of Cariningrad in the sea. Western sanctions imposed on him last week.

Some Russian oligarchs do not appear to have received notes to move their superyachts, despite weeks of public warning about Putin’s planned aggression.

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French officials seized the superyacht Amore Vero on Thursday in the Mediterranean resort town of La Ciotat. The boat is believed to belong to Putin’s ally, Putin, who runs Russia’s oil giant Rossneft, which has been on the US sanctions list since Russia annexed Crimea. In 2014.

The French Treasury said in a statement that customs officials had boarded a 289-foot Amore Bello and found that the crew were preparing for an emergency departure even if the planned repair work had not been completed. I did. Lists Sechin as a major shareholder.

On Saturday, Italian financial police in the port of Sanremo seized a 132-foot superyacht Lena flagged in the British Virgin Islands. Union.

With an estimated net worth of US $ 16.2 billion, Timchenko is the founder of the Volga Group, which specializes in investing in energy, transportation and infra assets.

A spokesman for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said a 213-foot Lady M was also confiscated by Italians while moored in the Liberia port town of Imperia. Alexei Mordashov, the licensed Baron of Steel, is listed as the wealthiest man in Russia with a fortune of about US $ 30 billion.

However, Moldashov’s large yacht, the 464-foot Nord, was safely moored on Friday at Saychel, a chain of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean that is not under the jurisdiction of US or EU sanctions. Among the largest superyachts in the world, Nord has market value. US $ 500 million

Since Friday, Italy has seized € 143 million (US $ 156 million) luxury yachts and villas at some of its most beautiful destinations, including Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como.

Most of the Russians on Forbes’ annual billionaire list have not yet been licensed by the United States and its allies, and their superyachts are still cruising the world’s oceans. The 237-foot Stella Maris seen by AP journalists docked this last week in Nice, France, believed to be owned by Russian billionaire oil and gas mogul Rashid Saldarov.

The evolution of oligarch yachts dates back to the turbulent decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is because the state-owned oil and metal industry was often sold at bottom prices to politically connected Russian businessmen and bankers who provided loans to new ones. Russian state in exchange for stock.

Russian riches have begun to buy luxury yachts of similar size and cost to those owned by Silicon Valley billionaires, heads of state and royalty. This is an important marker of Moscow and St. Petersburg status, size is important.

“Self-respecting Russian oligarchs cannot be without a superyacht,” said the U.S.-born and now London-based who worked in Moscow for years before becoming one of Putin’s most vocal foreign critics. Financier William Browder said. A rite of passage to become an oligarch. It’s just a prerequisite. “

As their fate swelled, an arms race broke out among the oligarchs, in which the wealthiest people accumulated a personal fleet of more luxurious boats than ever before.

For example, Russian metal and oil tycoon Roman Abramovich is believed to have bought or built at least seven of the world’s largest yachts, some of which have been sold to other oligarchs.

In 2010, Abramovich launched Eclipse with the flag of Bermuda. It was 533 feet high, the longest superyacht in the world at the time, and features features such as a wood-burning fire pit and a swimming pool that turns into a dance floor. Eclipse reports that it has its own helicopter hanger, a submarine bay that holds mini-submarines.

Dennis Cafeiser, a superyacht analyst at VesselsFinder, said oligarch boats often include secret security measures suitable for Bond’s villains, such as underwater escape hatches, bulletproof windows, and armored panic rooms. rice field.

“Eclipse has all sorts of special features, such as missile launchers and self-defense systems. There are secret shelters for submarines.”

Eclipse was soon eaten by Azzam, allegedly owned by the chief of Abu Dhabi, who claimed the title of the longest yacht when it was launched in 2013. Three years later, Usmanov launched the Dilbar. The new Dilbar is the world’s largest capacity yacht.

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Abramovich, whose property is estimated at US $ 12.4 billion, launched Solaris last year and counterattacked. Not as long as Eclipse and not as big as Dilbar, the $ 600 million Bermuda flag boat is probably even more luxurious. Eight-story high, the sleek Palisade on a large deck covered with functional teak lumber from Solaris is suitable for hosting hordes of energetic party attendees.

But no boat has been a top dog for a long time. At least 20 superyachts are reported to be under construction at various Scandinavian shipyards, including a $ 500 million superyacht built for American billionaire Jeff Bezos.

“It’s about the ego. They all want the best, longest, most valuable, up-to-date, most luxurious.” But he said that the oligarchs and Russian banks lined up in Putin Sending cold air throughout the industry, boat builders and staff are worried that they will not be paid. Superyacht crew, refueling and maintenance can cost more than $ 50 million annually.

The ruble crash and the Moscow stock market crash have depleted the wealth of the Russian elite, dropping several from Forbes’ list of billionaires last week. Sale price.

On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury announced new sanctions, including a press release promoting the close relationship between Usmanov and Putin, a private jet of Dilver and Oligarch, and a photo of a custom-made 209-foot Airbus A340-300 passenger liner. did. Usmanov aircraft are believed to cost up to $ 500 million and are named Bourkhan after his father.

Usmanov, whose property has recently shrunk to about $ 17 billion, has criticized the sanctions.

“I believe that such a decision is unfair and the reason adopted to justify the sanctions is a series of false defamation allegations that damage my honor, dignity, and business reputation. “He said in a statement issued through the website of the International Fencing Federation. He has been president since 2008.

Abramovich has not been sanctioned yet. British parliamentarians have criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for not chasing Abramovich’s UK-based assets, including the professional football club Chelsea. He will provide a $ 2.5 billion team and net income “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Britain.”

Meanwhile, the location transponder showed Solaris moored in Barcelona, ​​Spain on Saturday. Eclipse departs from St. Martin at the end of Thursday and is underway in the Caribbean. The destination is private.

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