July 3, 2022

Italy seizes luxury yacht associated with Russian president

One of the world’s largest and most expensive boats associated with Russian millionaires, the Shehrasat, docked on March 23, 2022 in the Italian port of Marina de Carrara. REUTERS / Jennifer Lorenzini

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ROME, May 6 (Reuters) – The Italian government on Friday ordered police to seize a $ 700 million luxury yacht leaked to the media by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The sleek, six-layer Sherozat has been under repair in the Italian port of Marina de Carrara since September, but the shipyard’s recent operation suggests the crew may be ready to go to sea.

One source, who knew directly from the weeks-long investigation into the ship, said police believed Edward Gudinatov, the former head of the Russian energy company Rosneft, was the owner. (ROSN.MM) Who is currently not targeted by EU sanctions.

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In a statement announcing the seizure order, the finance ministry did not name the owner, but only said he had links to “key elements of the Russian government.”

The ministry said the owner was not on any list of sanctions drawn up by Brussels following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, it said Rome had asked Brussels to rectify the situation and ordered the boat to be impounded until a decision could be made.

The Italian government said police boarded the boat late Friday to carry out the order.

Addressing the Italian parliament in March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on the government to seize the boat as part of a nationwide effort to pressure Putin and his allies to stop the attack on Ukraine.

In March and April Italy seized 900 million euros ($ 950 million) worth of villas and boats from wealthy Russians who usually came to the country on holiday and bought property in several valuable locations.

However, police told Reuters they were struggling to identify the real owner of the Sherozat, which was registered in the Cayman Islands and built by the German company Luersen.

Presented to its mystery owner in 2020, the boat has two helicopter landing pads and can accommodate 18 guests and 40 crew.

An organization set up by the imprisoned Alexei Navalny, a staunch critic of Putin, said in March that it had evidence that the boat belonged to Putin.

It said several of its members were obtained from Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO), which is tasked with protecting the Russian president.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Putin was the owner or a member of the FSO.

($ 1 = 0.9478 euros)

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Report by Christian Palmer and Emilio Barodi; Editing by Chris Reese and Sandra Malar

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