After weeks of investigation, Italian authorities introduced late Friday night that that they had impounded an almost $700 million superyacht, saying that its proprietor had “significant economic and business links” to “prominent elements of the Russian government.” According to U.S. officers, the distinguished ingredient is none aside from Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.
In latest days, the Scheherazade, as the large luxurious ship is known as, confirmed indicators of readying to set sail, apparently aiming to depart earlier than the Italian authorities may seize it. But late Friday, Italian police boarded the yacht — which is 459 ft lengthy, with two helicopter decks, a fitness center and a swimming pool convertible right into a dance ground — and informed the crew that the ship was not going anyplace. The Italian finance ministry introduced that an investigation had established that the ship’s proprietor, whom it didn’t identify, was a person that “threatened peace and international security” and that the person’s actions amounted to the “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
The ministry additionally specified the urgency to implement the restrictions as the rationale to freeze the floating, and intensely costly, asset.
The Italian authorities, who’ve actively impounded villas and yachts belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs, stated in an announcement that it had impounded the ship, which is within the dry dock of the port of Marina di Carrara, on the northern coast of Tuscany, although the particular person that they had recognized as its technical proprietor didn’t presently seem on a European sanctions record. They added that they might not identify the person till the European Council revealed the identify, and the Italian authorities committee tasked with defending the nation’s monetary safety known as for the particular person’s identify to be added to the record.
Italian media shops have for weeks reported that Eduard Khudainatov, a Russian oil tycoon who’s presently not beneath sanctions, owns the yacht. Mr. Khudainatov is taken into account shut to Igor Sechin, a strong oligarch and shut good friend of Mr. Putin’s who’s presently beneath sanctions. Italian monetary police officers reached on Friday night time declined to say who they believed owned the ship.
The captain and the chairman of the Marina di Carrara shipyard, the place the Scheherazade underwent refitting and has wintered for 2 consecutive years, have denied assertions made by U.S. intelligence service, building employees, crew members and locals within the small port that the vessel unofficially belongs to, and is for the usage of, Mr. Putin. They have argued that, on paper, it belonged to a Russian particular person who hasn’t been sanctioned by worldwide authorities.
The ship’s captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, informed The New York Times just lately that its proprietor was not on the sanctions record, but in addition denied to have seen or met Mr. Putin on the yacht.
Yet a former Scheherazade crew member informed The New York Times that he had by no means heard of Mr. Khudainatov and confirmed that crew members all the time believed and mentioned the true proprietor to be Mr. Putin.