Russian billionaires’ yachts and private jets are still traversing the globe despite tough sanctions from the US and its allies
Avery Hartmans – February 28, 2022
- Private jets and yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs are still criss-crossing the globe.
- They’ve evaded sanctions from global powers in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- If that changes, those high-end assets could be frozen, rendering them unusable.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing economic sanctions against the nation’s elite haven’t deterred some of its wealthiest citizens from continuing to traverse the globe in megayachts and private jets — at least not yet.
Bloomberg’s Benjamin Stupples and Tom Maloney reported Friday that aircraft owned by Russian billionaires continue to fly in and out of Moscow. Jets belonging to Dmitry Mazepin, chairman of chemical firm Uralchem, and steel baron Alexey Mordashov both landed in Moscow Thursday, with Mazepin’s aircraft flying in from New York on a Gulfstream G650 and Mordashov’s Bombardier Global 6000 arriving from the Seychelles.
Mordashov, with a net worth of $23 billion, is Russia’s second-richest person. He also owns the $500 million megayacht Nord, which is currently cruising around the East African island nation, according to Bloomberg.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich also flew into Moscow from an airport near Monte Carlo last week aboard his Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Bloomberg reports. Abramovich — who’s worth roughly $14 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index — is the largest shareholder of Russian steelmaker Evraz and the owner of Chelsea Football Club. Amid growing backlash to his ownership of the club, Abramovich announced Saturday that he would hand off stewardship of the team to the club’s charitable foundation, though he remains the team’s owner.
Beyond his private jet, Abramovich also owns a fleet of megayachts, including the Eclipse, which is among the world’s largest yachts, and the Solaris, which is said to be one of the most expensive custom yachts ever built. The Solaris is currently being refitted at a shipyard in Barcelona, The Guardian reported.
Two other Russian-owned megayachts are currently moored in Barcelona: the 242-foot Aurora, owned by billionaire Andrey Molchanov, and the 230-foot Galactica Super Nova, which is owned by oil and gas company Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov, The Guardian reported.
Russian oligarchs are known for owning some of the world’s most expensive private aircraft and sailing vessels in addition to high-end real estate and purchases like Abramovich’s Premier League club. But many of those ultra-wealthy Russians have avoided becoming ensnared by sanctions from the US, UK, and European Union, leaving them free to continue jet-setting.
While some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle have already been the target of stiff sanctions, the yachts and jets of the super-rich could be further targeted in the future — if that comes to pass, those assets would be frozen and rendered unusable, Stacy Keen, a sanctions expert at law firm Pinsent Masons, told The Guardian.
In the case of the yachts currently docked in Spain, for example, EU businesses wouldn’t be allowed to service the yacht in any capacity, whether that’s providing fuel or staffing the crew, Keen said.
“In effect, the yacht wouldn’t be able to function,” she said.
CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reported Monday that multiple billionaires, including Lukoil’s Alekperov, are currently moving their yachts toward Montenegro and the Maldives, possibly with the aim of avoiding them being frozen or seized.