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Italian Police Seize World's Largest Sailing Yacht From Russian Oligarch

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Mar 13, 2022 - 02:30 PM

Italian police seized one of the world's largest superyachts owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko as part of European sanctions on Russian oligarchs following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters

The 143-meter "Sy A" – short for Sailing Yacht A – was seized Friday in the port of Trieste in Northern Italy, according to a statement from Prime Minister Mario Draghi's office.

Video footage of Italian police entering the world's largest sail-assisted motor yacht (valued at $578mln) appeared on Twitter early Saturday morning. 

The yacht appears to have been shifted into drydock under the control of Italian authorities. 

Melnichenko is a Russian billionaire and owner of EuroChem Group, a top fertilizer producer, and the coal company SUEK. According to Reuters, both companies released a statement Thursday that said Melnichenko had resigned as a board member and withdrawn as their beneficiary. 

A spokesperson for Melnichenko, Alex Andreev, said the Russian billionaire had "no relation to the tragic events in Ukraine. He has no political affiliations".

"There is no justification whatsoever for placing him on the EU sanctions list," Andreev said. "We will be disputing these baseless and unjustified sanctions, and believe that the rule of law and common sense will prevail." 

In his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Biden warned that the U.S. and Europe would "seize" the assets of Russian billionaires.

"Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who built billions off this violent regime — no more," Biden said. "We're coming for your ill-begotten gains."

Reuters notes Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth $764 million from Russian oligarchs (read: here & here) placed on the European sanctions list. 

"So far we have hit what was visible, now we have to hit the rest such as shareholdings. We are doing a great job to bring out what is shielded by trusts and front names," Giuseppe Zafarana, head of the Italian tax police, said in a statement on Saturday.  

While authorities have said they will continue to hunt for Russian oligarch assets, we've written about the difficulty of linking assets to oligarchs on the sanctions list. 

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