14 Russian-owned luxury yachts were seized by Dutch authorities — 12 of them are still being built
Kate Duffy – April 6, 2022
- 14 yachts were seized by Dutch authorities, the Netherlands’ government said on Wednesday.
- 12 of the yachts were still being built, while two are undergoing maintenance, a minister said.
- The vessels can’t be delivered, transferred or exported under sanctions, he added.
A total of 14 yachts were seized by Dutch customs authorities as part of sanctions against Russia, the government of the Netherlands said on Wednesday, Agence-France Presse (AFP) first reported.
Of the 14 vessels, 12 were still under construction across five shipyards in the Netherlands for Russian beneficiaries, foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a 10-page letter to the Dutch parliament, translated into English by AFP.
The other two yachts were undergoing maintenance, the government said, per AFP.
“Given the current measures, these vessels cannot be delivered, transferred or exported for the moment,” Hoekstra said in the letter, cited in AFP.
The letter didn’t disclose who owns the yachts and said that authorities were investigating the matter further. The shipyards were made aware of the status of the yachts, Hoekstra added.
Hoekstra said in the letter that the people linked to the yachts weren’t on the EU sanctions lists but the government was looking into the possibility of one yacht having connections with a Russian oligarch who has been sanctioned by the union, AFP reported.
The government of the Netherlands didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.
No superyachts are anchored in the Netherlands but they are being built there, Hoekstra said in the letter.
Major ship manufacturers, such as Heesen and Oceanco, which have built superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs, come from the Netherlands. For example, the $120 million superyacht owned by Igor Sechin which was seized in France last month was made by Oceanco.
Heesen built the Galactica Super Nova owned by Vagit Alekperov, which lost tracking signals after leaving a port in Montenegro.
Hoekstra also said in the letter that the Netherlands had so far frozen 516 million euros in assets and 155 million euros in transactions.
Related: Robb Report
The Netherlands Stops 12 Superyachts From Leaving Its Shipyards—in Case They’re Owned by Russian Oligarchs
Officials in the Netherlands have decided to detain superyachts being built for wealthy Russians until they can verify the owners. Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament that the dozen yachts under construction—and two others that are being refitted—will not be allowed to leave the yards until it’s established that the owners are not on EU, UK and US sanctions lists.
“The situation is, at the moment, that in five yards there are 12 yachts under construction for so-called Russian ultimate beneficial owners,” Hoekstra wrote in the letter. “Because of the current export measures, these vessels should not be delivered.”
Today’s decision follows the seizure on Monday of a 254-foot yacht in Spain at the behest of the US government. The vessel, named Tango, is reportedly owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Other oligarch-owned yachts have been seized in the UK, France and Italy. They include the 192-foot Phi, detained by UK authorities just hours before it was to leave London.
The $75-million superyacht Axioma was seized by authorities in Gibraltar. According to Reuters, the 236-foot yacht is owned by Dmitry Pumpyansky, chairman of TMK, Russia’s largest steel and pipe manufacturer. Pumpyansky was added to both the UK and EU sanctions lists earlier this month. On March 17, the 443-foot Crescent was prevented from leaving Spain. A police source told Reuters that Crescent is linked to Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Rosneft, Russia’s oil giant. A second yacht linked to Sechin, the Amore Vero, was seized earlier that month in France.
In the Netherlands, halting the construction of a dozen superyachts could have a significant impact on the maritime sector. Shipyards such as Feadship, Heesen, Damen Shipyards and Oceanco had combined sales of about $1.66 billion in 2020, according to Reuters.
The Financieele Dagblad estimates that about $85 billion in Russian assets are based in the Netherlands, and about $50 billion of that belongs to Russians on the sanctions list. Superyacht experts have told Robb Report that about 10 percent of yachts over 100 feet currently under build, representing about 30 new builds, have Russian owners.
Dutch authorities did not name the 12 yachts or the five shipyards. Of the two yachts in the country for maintenance, one is thought to be owned by a Russian on the sanctions list.
U.S. Seizes Oligarch’s $90 Million Yacht Amid Russian Sanctions
Mary Papenfuss – April 5, 2022
American authorities, working with Spanish officials, seized an oligarch’s yacht Monday amid sanctions against Russia’s elite over the Ukraine invasion.
“Today marks our task force’s first seizure of an asset belonging to a sanctioned individual with close ties to the Russian regime. It will not be the last,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
At the request of U.S. authorities, Spanish officials took possession of a 255-foot yacht known as the Tango in the port of Palma de Mallorca. It’s estimated to be worth at least $90 million.
The yacht is owned by Ukraine-born billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and heads the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in minerals, mining and tech, among several other sectors. Vekselberg, who once had homes in New York and Connecticut, was also questioned in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election.
A Civil Guard stands by the yacht called the Tango in Palma de Mallorca, Spain on Monday. (Photo: Francisco Ubilla via Associated Press)
Justice Department officials obtained a warrant for the confiscation after arguing that the yacht should be forfeited for violating sanctions statutes. It’s the first U.S. seizure of an oligarch’s yacht since Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen created the Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs task force to enforce sanctions over the Ukraine invasion.
“Together, with our international partners, we will do everything possible to hold accountable any individual whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war,” Garland said.