Government Seizes Yacht Owned By Sanctioned Russian Oligarch

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The scope of punitive measures imposed worldwide in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has grown to include the seizure by the German government of a yacht worth almost $600 million that was in the possession of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who is among those who’ve been individually sanctioned by the European Union following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. According to a Forbes report: “The ship has been in the Hamburg shipyards of German shipbuilding firm Blohm+Voss since late October for a refitting job. Sources who spoke to Forbes said that the German government froze the asset and that, likely as a result, Blohm+Voss employees who had been working on the yacht didn’t show up to work on Wednesday.”

The vessel had been custom-built for Usmanov across more than four years. Per Forbes, it’s “the world’s largest motor yacht by gross tonnage” and features amenities like the largest swimming pool to ever be built onboard a yacht. Also present are facilities to provide for the stays of up to two dozen people across a dozen suites on the ship. Usmanov’s fortune includes substantial stakes in the metals company Metalloinvest and the consumer technology company Xiaomi, in addition to monies invested in other areas, like media. Apparently, Usmanov was also one of the first investors in Facebook, and he additionally has an array of high-dollar pieces of real estate in his personal portfolio. Examples include London and Surrey spots in the United Kingdom that are worth an overall total of some $280 million.

This instance is not the first time that a rich Russian’s yacht has prominently figured into the world’s response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian engineer Taras Ostapchuk was recently revealed to be heading to his home country after a high-profile incident in which he tried to sink a pricey yacht belonging to Russian weapons dealer Alexander Mijeev, who is the CEO of a company called Rosoboronexport. Ostapchuk had serviced the vessel for years — and amid scrutiny over his actions, he insisted that he’d do it again, directly tying his outrage to what has been unfolding in Ukraine. Ostapchuk told a judge that he “watched the news about the war. There was a video of a helicopter attack on a building in Kyiv. The armaments used are produced by the yacht owner’s company. They were attacking innocents.” As for other retaliatory economic measures targeting Russian individuals in response to the violence in Ukraine, the U.S. Justice Department has now announced a task force to examine compliance with the sanctions and related measures that have been rolled out, with criminal prosecutions and asset seizures among the options that are on the metaphorical table.