Data shows Russian billionaires are moving superyachts to Maldives as sanctions tighten

FILE PHOTO: St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF)
FILE PHOTO: Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

March 4, 2022

By Alasdair Pal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – At least five superyachts owned by Russian billionaires were at anchor or cruising in the Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation that has no extradition treaty with the United States, on Wednesday, ship tracking data showed.

The ships’ arrival in the archipelago off the coast of Sri Lanka follows tough Western sanctions being imposed on Russia in retaliation for its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Late Wednesday, Forbes reported that Germany had seized Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s megayacht at a Hamburg shipyard.

Usmanov was on a list of billionaires at risk of European Union sanctions on Monday. A Forbes report, based on three yachting industry sources, says his $600 million, 512-foot yacht Dilbar has been seized by German authorities.

German authorities did not immediately respond to Reuters inquiries. Forbes said Usmanov’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Clio superyacht of Oleg Deripaska, founder of aluminum giant Rusal sanctioned by the United States in 2018, anchored off the capital Male, according to shipping database MarineTraffic.

The Titan, owned by Alexander Abramov, a co-founder of steelmaker Evraz, arrived on February 28.

Three other yachts owned by Russian billionaires were spotted in Maldives waters on Wednesday, data showed. These include the 88-meter Nirvana, owned by the richest man in Russia, Vladimir Potanin. Most ships were last spotted at anchor in Middle East ports earlier this year.

A Maldives government spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

The United States has announced it will take tough action to confiscate the property of sanctioned Russians.

“Over the coming week, we will deploy a multilateral transatlantic task force to identify, hunt down and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs – their yachts, their mansions and any other ill-gotten gains we can find and freeze the law.” ‘ the White House said in a tweet on Sunday.

Washington imposed sanctions on Deripaska and other influential Russians in 2018 over their ties to President Vladimir Putin following alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election, which Moscow denies.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in New Delhi, additional reporting by Mohamed Junayd, editing by William Maclean) Data shows Russian billionaires are moving superyachts to Maldives as sanctions tighten

Caroline Bleakley

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