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Russian oligarchs move yachts as U.S. looks to ‘hunt down’ and freeze assets

Southampton, England, UK, Super yacht Dilbar 15,917 tones, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov departing the Port of Southampton.
Ucg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

Superyachts owned by Russian billionaires who have ties to President Vladimir Putin are on the move as the United States and their allies prepare further sanctions on their property following the invasion of Ukraine.

Data reviewed by CNBC from Marine Traffic shows that at least four massive yachts owned by Russian business leaders have been moving toward Montenegro and the Maldives since a wide array of sanctions were announced in recent days by leaders from around the world, including the U.S. Treasury targeting Russia’s central bank. The Maldives doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S., according to Nomad Capitalist.

The property of targeted Russian executives is likely to take another hit, as the Biden administration recently announced the creation of a taskforce that will take aim at their lucrative assets, including yachts and mansions. France is putting together a list of properties by Russian oligarchs, including cars and yachts, that could be seized under sanctions by the European Union.

“This coming week, we will launch 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 that we can find and freeze under the law,” a White House’s recent tweet reads.

With that, some of Russia’s wealthiest are moving their boats to other locations, potentially with the hope they can avoid those items from being seized.

The mega-yacht “Luna” lies in the Blohm+Voss dry dock in the harbor. The yacht, which is around 115 meters long, was built for the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and is now said to belong to another Russian oligarch.
Marcus Brandt | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Vagit Alekperov, who is the president of Russia based Lukoil, is sailing his yacht head to Montenegro, according to Marine Traffic. It’s expected to arrive there in the coming days from Barcelona.

Alekperov’s yacht is known as Galactica Super Nova and, according to Superyacht Fan, which tracks the comings and goings of these types of vessels, it features a “a 6-meter glass-bottom swimming pool with a waterfall. And a touch-and-go helipad, an elevator, and a large beach club.” Alekperov has a net worth of just under $25 billion, according to Forbes.

Montenegro is a member of NATO. Their foreign minister has said Montenegro, which applied for European Union membership in 2008, will join with the EU in their sanctions against Russia.

At least three yachts owned by other Russian billionaires are getting closer to the Maldives, a small country located in the Indian Ocean. The island has been a hotspot for tourists from Russia over the years. The Maldives tourism minister has said Russia’s invasion will have a major impact on their tourism sector.

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s yacht known as Clio left Sri Lanka almost two weeks ago and is expected to arrive in the Maldives shortly, according to Marine Traffic. Deripaska and companies associated with him were sanctioned in 2018 by the United States. He’s been one of a few Russia based billionaire who has come out in opposing the war in Ukraine.

“Peace is the priority. Negotiations must start ASAP,” Deripaska, who has an estimated net worth of about $4 billion, tweeted on Sunday.

Representatives for the billionaires mentioned in this story and the governments of the Maldives and Montenegro, did not respond to requests for comment.

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