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Spain seizes Russian oligarch’s yacht in Barcelona

FILE PHOTO: Superyacht Valerie is seen in Barcelona Harbour
FILE PHOTO: Superyacht Valerie, linked to the head of Russia’s state-owned aerospace and defense conglomerate Rostec Sergei Chemezov, is seen at the Port of Barcelona March 9, 2022 in Barcelona, ​​Spain. REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

March 15, 2022

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain has temporarily seized a Russian oligarch’s $140 million yacht in Barcelona, ​​the country said on Monday, as two sources said the ship belonged to the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, an ally of the Russian president Wladimir Putin.

“Today we seized – the technical term is provisionally immobilized – a yacht belonging to one of the most important oligarchs,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on the La Sexta television channel. “We’re talking about a yacht that we value at $140 million.”

“There will be more,” he added without elaborating. Monitoring body Marine Traffic said yachts linked to two other oligarchs who have not yet been sanctioned are also docked in Barcelona.

The 85-metre superyacht Valerie is owned by Sergei Chemezov, a former KGB officer who runs state-owned Rostec, two sources said.

The ship flies the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and is registered to Chemezov’s stepdaughter Anastasia Ignatova through a company in the British Virgin Islands, according to a 2021 article published in the Pandora Papers information leak.

Since Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the West has sanctioned Russian billionaires, frozen state assets and cut off much of Russia’s corporate sector from the global economy.

Chemezov was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and Britain in 2020 for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and was added to sanctions lists by the United States and Australia this month. US sanctions also targeted Chemezov’s stepdaughter, as well as his wife and son.

He was not named in the latest European list of sanctioned Russian figures, but the EU imposed measures on him in 2014. A fourth set of EU sanctions against Russia is expected to be unveiled in the coming days.

According to Marine Traffic, the yacht has been in Barcelona since February 9 and was being repaired at Barcelona’s MB92 shipyard by Monday.

The yacht will remain in custody while Spanish authorities confirm their ownership and whether they are on a list of sanctions targets, a government source said.

Chemezov told staffers in a message shared with Reuters this week that Russia, which describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” to safeguard internal security, will “emerge victorious” despite the sanctions.

(Reporting by Belen Carreno, Joan Faus and Isla Binnie, additional reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Aislinn Laing and Cynthia Osterman)

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Bobby Allyn

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