French government seizes yacht of top Putin ally Sechin as sanctions on oligarchs continue
Christopher Wilson, Senior Writer – March 3, 2022
The French government announced it had seized the yacht of Igor Sechin, head of the Russian energy giant Rosneft, before it could leave a port where it was being repaired.
According to a government statement, customs officials seized the yacht Amore Vero in La Ciotat, a Mediterranean port near Marseille, on Wednesday night into Thursday morning after finding it was owned by a company linked to Sechin. The action fell under European Union sanctions meant to freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs, put in place after the country invaded Ukraine last week.
“At the time of the inspection, the ship was making arrangements to sail urgently, without having completed the planned work,” said the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, noting that marked a violation.
Sechin is a former deputy prime minister who has worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin for decades, dating back to the St. Petersburg mayor’s office in the 1990s. Rosneft is the state-controlled oil giant, of which BP announced it would be selling a 20 percent stake following the invasion.
In placing Sechin on the list of Russians to personally sanction, the European Union called him “one of Vladimir Putin’s most trusted and closest advisors, as well as his personal friend,” adding that “he has been in contact with the Russian President on a daily basis” and “is considered to be one of the most powerful members of the Russian political elite.”
The 280-foot ship was delivered in 2013, according to the website of its builder, Oceanco. The Amore Vero features a sundeck with a jacuzzi and a main deck swimming pool that can convert into a helicopter platform.
“Thank you to the French customs officers who are enforcing the European Union’s sanctions against those close to the Russian government,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted.
Forbes reported on Wednesday that the German government had seized the 512-foot yacht Dilbar, valued at nearly $600 million. The yacht is owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who was described by the European Union as one of Putin’s “favorite oligarchs.” Usmanov issued a statement on Tuesday calling his placement on the list of targeted Russians “unfair, and the reasons employed to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honor, dignity, and business reputation.”
In addition, CBS News reported on Thursday that Putin’s alleged personal yacht, the Graceful, was spotted in a satellite image in Russian territorial waters, safe from sanctions. Tracking data shows the ship left Germany two weeks before the Russian president launched his invasion into Ukraine. Reuters has reported that at least five Russian-owned superyachts have flocked to the Maldives, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S.
Russian-owned yachts spotted in the Maldives