UPDATED: Yachts suspected of links to Russian oligarchs under investigation in UK

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said a “small number” of yachts moored in the UK are being investigated for suspected links to Russian oligarchs.

The boats are unable to leave, and 10 Russian-linked ships have been turned away or redirected on their course.

The UK has imposed its harshest ever sanctions on Russians with links to the Putin regime, including former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. 

Spanish authorities on Wednesday detained a mega-yacht called “Crescent” that is believed to belong to Igor Sechin, the sanctioned chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft, a police source told Reuters.

The 135-metre-long yacht, described by specialist publications as one of the biggest in the world, sails under a Cayman Islands flag and arrived in Spain from Italy in November 2021, according to monitoring site Marine Traffic.

Spain’s Transport Ministry, which confirmed the detention but not the ownership, said it docked in the Mediterranean port city of Tarragona on November 2 and had sought permission from the coast guard to depart on March 4 but never set sail.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Russian ‘Rosneft’ Board Chairman Igor Sechin (L) visit the Konevsky Monastery on Konevets Island on Ladoga Lake in Leningrad region, 31 July 2021. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL / POOL

It said it would hold the yacht while it sought to determine its ownership and whether the owner was covered by European Union sanctions targeted at Russia’s super-rich and politically connected over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

A source with Spain’s police told Reuters they believe the yacht belongs to Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is on U.S, UK and EU sanctions lists.

Another yacht thought to belong to Sechin, who was sanctioned by the EU on February 28, was seized by French authorities on March 4.

A spokeswoman for the Tarragona Marina told Reuters the Crescent was registered in the name of a non-Russian company, though she declined to give the name.

“There are no Russian flagged or directly owned ships in the marina,” she said.

According to specialist publication Superyacht Fan, the German-built Crescent is one of the largest yachts in the world and is rumoured to have cost more than $600 million. The publication says its features include a retractable helicopter hangar and a glass-bottomed pool.

The Crescent is the third yacht tied to Russian oligarchs detained by Spanish authorities in three days.

On Tuesday, authorities in Mallorca detained a yacht called Lady Anastasia owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Mikheyev, who is under European Union sanctions. On Monday, they detained the Valerie, a vessel undergoing repairs in a Barcelona shipyard and linked to chief of Russian aerospace and defence conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, who is under U.S. sanctions.

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