UK Seizes First Superyacht In British Waters: Latest Updates
As part of its sanctions against Russia, the United Kingdom has confiscated its first superyacht on British seas. An unknown Russian businessman owns the £38 million yacht Phi.
The individual was not currently sanctioned, but had “deep ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United Kingdom imposed a slew of sanctions on individuals and businesses.
The 58.5m (192ft) Phi was first discovered as possibly Russian-owned on March 13, but the government claims its ownership is “deliberately well hidden.”It went on to say that the ship’s owner is located in the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis, but that it was flying Maltese flags to conceal its origins.
The Department for Transport (DfT) refused to comment on why the yacht’s owner was not identified. Mr. Shapps, the Transport Secretary, described the measure as “a clear and stern reminder to Putin and his henchmen.” For the time being, the ship won’t be going anywhere,” he stated.
“Those who have benefited from [Mr. Putin’s] administration will not benefit from cruising around London and the United Kingdom in ships like these.”
• A luxury yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch has been seized.
• The search for sanctioned Russian superyachts
• What sanctions are in place against Russia?
Royal Huisman characterizes Phi, which is named after the mathematical concept commonly known as the Golden Ratio, as “magnificently sensuous” on its website. The bright blue yacht has an “unlimited wine store,” as well as a freshwater swimming pool and a penthouse apartment on the upper deck, according to the builders.
Last year, the ship, which was built in the Netherlands, set sail for the first time. On Tuesday, UK authorities boarded the Phi in Canary Wharf, east London. The ship was in town for a superyacht awards ceremony and was scheduled to leave at 12:00 p.m.Under the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, the yacht was detained.
According to Benjamin Malt, partner at the international law firm Keystone Law, the laws indicate that the secretary of state “may give a ‘movement instruction’ to any ship owned, controlled, chartered, or operated by persons linked with Russia.
‘Yachts are considered ships, and holding one might be part of a movement direction, he said. He did say, however, that the decision to detain a ship might be contested under international human rights law, which guarantees people the right to “peaceful enjoyment” of their property.
If the challenge is successful, the owner may seek compensation starting at the cost of chartering a similar yacht for a week, which would be roughly £250,000, according to Mr. Malt.”It might be a very expensive mistake if the secretary of state gets this wrong,” he warned.
Before the war, superyachts, megayachts, and even Giga yachts were on the wish lists of super-wealthy Russians. Helicopter launch pads, minisubmarines, swimming pools, and missile defenses all contributed to the overall picture of opulence and might.
Those boats, on the other hand, aren’t just toys or status symbols; they’re floating repositories of value. A number of Russian ships have sailed out of EU waters ahead of the imposition of sanctions. For example, Roman Abramovich’s two massive yachts, Eclipse and Solaris, are moored in Turkey, exempt from UK and EU penalties.
While many of these boats cost well over £100 million, they are insignificant in comparison to the whole cost of Russian sanctions. Detaining them, however, is a symbolic blow to the ultra-rich lifestyle enjoyed by Russian billionaires in the past.
It now poses a problem for European authorities: what to do with a seized superyacht that requires millions of pounds in annual maintenance to maintain it seaworthy? To locate and detain the vessel, the Department of Transport collaborated with the National Crime Agency and the Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau.
A number of additional vessels are also being investigated by the department and other enforcement organizations. The United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all stated that superyachts related to sanctioned Russians will be targeted, and at least eight have already been seized by authorities in France, Italy, and Spain.
For example, French officials confiscated a boat owned by Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s national energy corporation Rosneft, in early March. More yachts are still on the move or docked in countries where sanctions are now unenforceable, such as the Maldives.
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