Vessels with ties to Russian oligarchs hit by sanctions are no longer reporting their position to an automatic global locator.
An investigation by the Observer this weekend reveals that at least six superyachts linked to UK-sanctioned oligarchs have “gone dark” on ocean tracking systems. The owners of these yachts will almost certainly realise they are at risk of being targeted in a global hunt for the assets of Russia’s super-rich.
At least 13 such vessels with a total value of nearly £2bn have already been impounded since the invasion of Ukraine, from southern France to Fiji. In the latter case, the superyacht Amadea, allegedly linked to the gold billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, was seized on behalf of the US.
Analysts report an increase in Russian-linked yachts which are turning off the automatic identification system (AIS) equipment used for tracking large vessels. The system can be turned off for legitimate reasons, but experts believe some vessels want to avoid detection.
There are about 9,300 superyachts on the seas, worth more than £50bn, according to industry data. An estimated 10% of that fleet is owned by Russians.
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