Roman Abramovich confirmed as owner of two yachts in Antigua, report says

Topline

Two yachts moored in Antigua are confirmed to belong to Roman Abramovich and could possibly be seized, the FinancialTimes noted Friday, the latest assets to be scrutinized as Western countries toughen sanctions against Russia’s biggest and wealthiest elites.

Highlights

The British High Commission in Barbados told Antiguan officials that two boats moored in Falmouth Harbor belonged to billionaire Abramovich, according to to a letter seen by the FT.

The letter confirms the newspaper report that Abramovich appeared to own the ships earlier this week, the newspaper said.

It is possible that the boats will now be seized, as Antigua has done previously said it will apply US, EU and UK sanctions against Russian individuals and entities.

The ships, Halo and Boy, are worth around $38 million and $20 million respectively, the FT said, citing the VesselsValue rating service.

Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, has been sanctioned by the UK and EU for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite not facing US sanctions, apparently after a demand of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

If seized, the yachts will join a growing pile of sanctioned Russian elite assets that were seized or frozen following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, including two helicopters belonging to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov on the Côte d’Azur last week.

Key Context

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Western nations have stepped up sanctions against high-profile Russian figures and entities, including a growing number of mega-rich oligarchs. Those sanctioned are expected to have bank accounts and assets frozen and will generally face other restrictions such as travel bans. In practice, the way the world’s super-rich structure their finances makes it difficult to enforce such restrictions. Often the assets are hidden behind a complex array of corporate structures to hide ownership or minimize taxes – hence Abramovich being named as the beneficial owner of the boats – and the majority of the oligarchs’ wealth. remains largely intact by penalties.

Tangent

Abramovich has been involved in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and was pictured during talks in Istanbul this week. The billionaire denies having close ties to Putin and says he has done nothing to warrant sanctions from the UK or EU. He was allegedly poisoned in previous talks, something Western intelligence doubts and denied by the Kremlin, which has a history of allegedly poisoning its opponents.

Further reading

Antigua confirms that Roman Abramovich has two yachts moored on the island (FT)

Why is Abramovich acting as a peacemaker after Russia invades Ukraine? (Guardian)

Exclusive: France freezes ownership of two helicopters linked to sanctioned Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov (Forbes)

A guide to private jets and helicopters owned by sanctioned Russian billionaires (Forbes)

Putin’s poisoned playbook – Before Abramovich, Russia had a dark history of poisoned opponents (Forbes)

David C. Barham