The superyachts of the billionaire Russian oligarchs are still frantically searching the world’s waterways for safe-havens, with some vessels employing desperate measures to escape detection and seizure by western countries.
A $150-million superyacht owned by Russia’s second-richest person, Leonid Mikhelson, who is facing sanctions, unexpectedly disappeared from the radar for over two weeks before reappearing on May 20, reported Bloomberg.
According to vessel data obtained by Bloomberg News, the 85-meter (280-foot) yacht named Pacific is sailing by Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship reappeared near the Canary Islands on May 20 after its positioning transponder was turned back on.
It had gone off the radar 12 days earlier, just after indicating that it was on its way to the Bahamas, a country noted for assisting other governments in seizing boats.
While the yacht’s ultimate destination is unknown, the Pacific is signaling Port Said in Egypt as its next stop. It was previously reported that it was on its way to Port Vell in Barcelona.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Spanish authorities confiscated at least four luxury yachts linked to blacklisted billionaires. After reaching Egypt, the yacht is expected to travel to the Maldives or Turkey. For Russian oligarchs, these two countries are seen as safe-havens.
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, at least five Russian oligarchs’ superyachts reported having arrived in Turkey. Ankara has yet to impose its sanctions against Russia.
Andrew Lipow, president of consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates LLC, told Bloomberg, “It’s more likely that Port Said is an interim destination as it makes its way to enter the Suez Canal to get to some other location. It’s potentially going to the Maldives or another location that’s a friendly destination for Russian mega yachts.”
Several Russian boats associated with Russian billionaires have been reported to be lurking around the Maldivian islands. The thought of seizing yachts, according to Hussain Shameen, the Maldives’ senior prosecutor, is “far-fetched” since the Maldives’ judicial system isn’t robust enough. Officials would have trouble seizing a tourist boat unless a crime had been committed under local law.
Luxury Yachts Whizzing Across The Seas
As the conflict in Ukraine enters its fourth month, Russian billionaires and tycoons are coming under increased scrutiny. The US and the UK are amongst the countries imposing penalties on individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the invasion.
On Wednesday, the European Commission revealed new measures to criminalize sanctions evasion at the EU level, laying the groundwork for EU countries to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets.
Several European nations, including Italy, Spain, and Germany, have already confiscated villas, bank accounts, and luxury cars belonging to Russia’s wealthiest nationals. According to reports over a dozen yachts valued at more than $2.25 billion have already been seized.
These harsh measures have sent Russian ships rushing across oceans to places where restrictions are less likely to be imposed or enforced. Since the invasion began, some have even clocked more than 5,000 nautical miles.
Turkey has long been a favored destination for Russian luxury yachts. For instance, steel billionaire Alexander Abramov’s $100 million Titan arrived via the Suez Canal in early May.
Other Russian-linked boats, such as the $300 million Ocean Victory owned by steel tycoon Viktor Rashnikov, have gone silent after arriving in the Maldives.
The Pacific, which is more than a decade old, stands out with its robust shape and metallic finish that appears to change color in the sunlight. This magnificent ship, which measures 280 feet (85 meters), has a fully magnificent constitution, as it was built by some of the industry’s leading names.
Pacific features a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a gym, and a movie theater, as do all billionaires’ luxury possessions. The color-shifting silhouette and two massive helipads, however, are its distinguishing features.
It was designed to effortlessly cruise around the world while attaining speeds of up to 20 knots (23 mph /37 kph) when necessary. These characteristics appear helpful right now, as all of the billionaires’ yachts that have not been confiscated are en route to safe havens.