Authorities in some European countries have begun confiscating luxury yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs – the wealthy elite – as part of sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.
Near Marseille, French customs confiscated a yacht from Igor Sechin, the boss of the Russian state oil company Rosneft.
German authorities have confiscated a yacht, valued at $600 million, belonging to mining giant Ali Sher Usmanov, according to reports.
These are the latest moves against Russia in light of mounting sanctions.
The BBC has learned that some of the EU-sanctioned oligarchs are “shocked” to find their bank cards aren’t working, and are now relying on cash stored in their homes.
The French acted quickly yesterday Wednesday when customs officers noticed that the 88-metre yacht “Amore Ferro”, whose name translates to “true love”, was making arrangements to get under way.
The yacht arrived at the port of La Ciotat on the Mediterranean in January, and was to remain there for repairs until April 1.
Hamburg shipyard authorities have confiscated the 156-meter “Delbar”, the world’s largest yacht by gross tonnage, according to Forbes magazine.
It was also reported that the yachts of five Russian billionaires were heading for the Maldives, which is considered a safe home as it does not have an extradition agreement with the United States.
The British are slow to move
The moves by France and Germany came as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman dismissed claims that the UK had been slower to impose sanctions than the European Union or the EU. legal delays prevented the imposition of sanctions on the Russian oligarch.
He reiterated Britain’s position that it was better to prioritize measures that had the greatest economic impact, rather than targeting individuals simply because they are well known.
Sanctions have been imposed on some of the oligarchs by the UK government which means their UK bank accounts have been frozen and access to funds have been denied.
A lawyer has told the BBC that wealthy Russians are looking to move their money out of the UK before it faces penalties.
“The government softened the blow by giving wealthy Russians time to move their money,” W Legal’s Nigel Kushner told the BBC.
He added: “Clients were asking me, can I transfer my money overseas before my name is put on the sanctions list? My answer is that it can happen, and it’s a very legal act.” .
The British government’s list of Russians on the sanctions list includes 195 people, but most of them were on the list before the invasion of Ukraine.
Since the start of the war, only 15 Russians have been added to the sanctions list, including President Vladimir Putin.
British Security Minister Damian Hinds told the BBC that the Russian oligarchy’s investments in Britain would not prevent the British government from “going after them”.
Last weekend, British Foreign Secretary Liz Trace told The Sunday Times: “We are working on a list of targets and will continue to punish new oligarchs every few weeks.”
“We need to make sure the cases are prepared properly and we have the right evidence before we punish these individuals,” she added.
Meanwhile, the London Stock Exchange has suspended the shares of 28 Russian-linked companies due to sanctions imposed following the invasion of Ukraine.
This is guaranteed by the company Fr+ It operates in energy and minerals, its owner Oleg Derbaska is sanctioned by the United States, and run by the British House of Lords and former energy minister Greg Parker.
London Stock Exchange chief executive David Schwimmer said the decision to halt trading was “based on sanctions and the ability to run a regulated market”.
“If we see other securities affected by the sanctions, we will take similar action,” he added.
Last week, a subsidiary of Russia’s second largest bank (VTB) was banned from the London Stock Exchange following the sanctions.
However, a number of Russian firms, including Evraz, backed by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, continue to trade on the stock exchange despite criticism from politicians.
He also announced new economic sanctions to prevent Russian aerospace companies from entering the UK insurance market.
The move will limit the benefits Russian companies can derive from their access to the global insurance and reinsurance market, through Lloyd’s, the world’s largest insurance marketplace.
tell us your experiences
Are you a resident of Russia? The BBC would like to know your experiences in light of the sanctions imposed on Moscow. How has your daily life been affected?
If you would like to share your stories with us, use the form below to briefly tell us. We may contact you to post it on our website.