Italy impounds $700 million megayacht linked to Putin

Financial authorities in Italy seized a $700 million megayacht allegedly linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the news agency Italian Press Agency reported on Friday.The owner of the property remains a mystery: Italy did not reveal who the owner might be in its “freezing decree”.

Italian investigators raced to investigate the vessel and prevent it from leaving Marina di Carrara, a port in Tuscany.As of before Russia invaded Ukraine, the yacht Scheherazade was undergoing repairs.The vessel returned to the water this week, according to a reporter for The New York Times, prompting fears that it may depart and evade sanctions.

Italy’s move, according to a spokesman for the Finance Ministry, is “provisional.”A spokesman for the Italian government says it proposed to the Council of the European Union that the owner of the boat be included in the list.However, the name cannot be made public until then.The Russian oil executive Eduard Khudainatov was named as the boat’s owner by the Italian newspaper La Stampa in March.Nevertheless, the newspaper raised the question of how someone who is not listed as a billionaire would be able to afford one of the world’s most luxurious yachts.

Putin’s $700 million megayacht is impounded by Italy

As a result, conjecture regarding the Scheherazade has only grown. The yacht’s owner, according to investigators working for imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, is Putin himself. Navalny’s team claimed to have disclosed the crew list of those who had worked on the yacht in March. Members of the Russian state agency in charge of Putin’s personal security are said to be among them.

“We believe this is sufficient proof that Scheherazade belongs to Putin himself and must be seized immediately,” said Maria Pevchikh, the leader of the FBK research team created by Navalny.

Russia’s ruling and billionaire classes’ assets are generally kept under wraps, controlled on paper through opaque offshore companies. This has made it difficult for European countries in some cases to determine who the true owners of villas, yachts, and other luxury items are. According to Pevchikh, the Scheherazade is officially owned by an offshore company from the Marshall Islands.

Prior to Friday, Italy had detained a $560 million megayacht linked to Andrey Melnichenko, a coal and fertiliser tycoon who is one of Russia’s top ten wealthiest people. Italy has also restricted access to villas used by oligarchs for summer vacations.

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