The world’s largest yacht has been confiscated by German officials in the latest move to clamp down on Russian wealthy elites, due to the vessel’s relationship with a sanctioned billionaire with Kremlin connections.
Authorities were able to identify the owner of the vessel “despite offshore concealment” after “extensive investigations,” the German Federal Criminal Police Office wrote in a tweet last Tuesday.
Gulbakhor Ismailova, sister of Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov, was identified as the mega boat’s owner. According to the US Treasury Department, the Office of Foreign Assets Controls “is identifying Usmanov’s superyacht and aircraft as blocked property in which Usmanov has an interest.”
According to a senior Biden administration official familiar with the situation, German officials initially prohibited the magnificent superyacht from departing its port on March 3.
Das #BKA hat durch aufwendige Ermittlungen trotz Offshore-Verschleierung die Eigentümerin der M/S #Dilbar ermittelt. Diese ist Gulbakhor Ismailova, die Schwester von Alisher Usmanov. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/L2zc0bP5jU
— Bundeskriminalamt (@bka) April 13, 2022
The luxurious boat, known as Dilbar, was officially captured after police verified with officials in Brussels that the owner had been sanctioned. The superyacht, which weighs 15,917 tonnes and is described by its maker as “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built,” is docked in Hamburg, Germany.
The Dilbar, which was christened after Usmanov’s mother and is registered in the Cayman Islands, is valued at $600 million to $735 million. The boat has two helipads and one of the world’s largest indoor pools ever installed on a yacht. The ship’s annual operating costs are anticipated to be $60 million.
Russian metals group Metalloinvest, media business Kommersant, and mobile phone carrier Megafon are all owned by Alisher Usmanov. He is also a major stakeholder in Deep Sea Minerals Finance, the successor company to the insolvent deep-sea mining enterprise Nautilus Minerals, through Metalloinvest.
US, Allies Look To Seize Russian assets
The Dilbar is not the first Russian boat captured by the United States and its allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since March 2, at least 13 ships worth more than $2 billion have been seized, according to reports.
The seizures follow President Joe Biden’s announcement last month that the US and its allies will go after Russian oligarchs in the wake of the Kremlin’s invasion: “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, and your private jets.”
The Treasury Department stated that “Usmanov’s Kremlin ties enrich him and enable his luxurious lifestyle.” The metal, mining, telecommunications, and information technology industries are among the billionaire’s “vast holdings” all over the Russian economy and overseas, according to the department. He is believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council.
Usmanov and Putin are claimed to have financial relations, and Medvedev is said to have benefitted from personal usage of Usmanov’s opulent houses. The billionaire also controls 49 percent of USM Holdings.
On March 3, the US issued sanctions against Russian elites and their families in order to cut off “direct and indirect” assistance to the Russian government. Usmanov was also targeted by the European Union.
“We are demonstrating our commitment to impose massive costs on Putin’s closest confidants and their family members and freeze their assets in response to the brutal attack on Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month in a statement announcing the sanctions.
On March 2, French officials confiscated a massive yacht they believe belongs to Igor Sechin, the Russian billionaire and CEO of state oil major Rosneft. He formerly served in President Vladimir Putin’s cabinet as Russia’s deputy prime minister.
Earlier this month, the US government also confiscated a 254-foot yacht in Spain, it was the first such seizure by the Biden administration under sanctions.
According to US Treasury Department documents, the boat was one of the properties tied to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and Putin’s close supporter who leads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate covering metals, mining, technology, and other businesses.
Since a slew of penalties were imposed, at least four big boats owned by Russian business elites have been traveling toward Montenegro and the Maldives, according to data previously obtained by CNBC from Marine Traffic.
According to Nomad Capitalists, the Maldives and the United States do not have an extradition treaty.