Andrii Melnichenko, an ex-beneficiary of the Siberian Coal Energy Company, can no longer enjoy a summer vacation on the Sailing Yacht A because the Italian Financial Guard arrested it. It is the largest sailing yacht in the world — 143 meters long, 25 meters wide, 100 meters high and worth EUR 530 mln. However, the billionaire is not the first or the last to fall under sanctions. What and whose else property has been frozen?
In Germany, the authorities froze the Dilbar yacht of the russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, worth more than USD 600 mln. Spain arrested the yacht Valerie of the head of the state corporation “Rostekh” Serhii Chemezov worth USD 140 mln. And the authorities of the British territory of Gibraltar detained the Axioma yacht worth USD 70 mln belonging to the Ural billionaire Dmytro Pumpianskyi. Moreover, Finnish customs detained 21 yachts.
The sanctions hit Putin’s friend as well. Law enforcement officers of Croatia arrested the Royal Romance yacht of Viktor Medvedchuk. However, billionaire Roman Abramovich carefully hides his ships in Turkey. His 14-metre long MY Solaris yacht is anchored in Bodrum, and the 160-metre-long Eclipse is heading in this direction as well.
Recently, a team of investigators of Oleksii Navalnyi has discovered a 140-meter super yacht “Shekherezada,” which may belong to putin. Its value is estimated at USD 700 mln! If the connection of the yacht with putin is proven, it will be confiscated, since putin is under sanctions of the European Union. The yacht currently stands in the port of Marina di Carrara in the Italian region of Tuscany.
In addition to vessels, there are other catches. The UK authorities hunted down three private planes of the russians, but whose they are is not yet known.
The Italian government arrested two villas of russian TV presenter Volodymyr Solovyov on Lake Como worth EUR 8 mln and the estate of billionaire Alisher Usmanov worth about EUR 16 mln.
Moreover, the Italian law enforcement authorities seized the Rocky Ram villa of the owner of the Severstal, Oleksii Mordashov, worth EUR 105 mln, and the financial police seized the villa of one of the owners of the financial consortium “Alpha-Group” Petro Avena in Porto Rafael, worth more than EUR 4 mln.
By the way, the Swiss authorities arrested other apartments of the oligarch Avena — a three-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a VIP complex in a golf resort in the Bernese Oberland.
Money and more
France froze EUR 22 bln in assets of the Central Bank of the russian federation (CB RF). This can be quite a painful blow for russia because the Central Bank is a kind of economic cushion, where foreign exchange reserves are stored, which are used in emergencies, for example, to repay debts or to influence the exchange rate of the national currency.
But the freezing of russian real estate by France does not mean the seizure of assets in favor of Ukraine. It’s about blocking the ability to resell or use the property for profit.
Poland froze russian assets for worth USD 33 mln, but is currently unable to transfer them to Ukraine due to obstacles in the Polish constitution. The Netherlands also froze russian assets and transactions worth EUR 392 mln, and the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund froze USD 2.8 bln of russian assets.
The freezing of assets is a kind of lever of influence on the russian authorities and putin. Time will show how effective it is. Some countries have already rallied around the idea of seizing and confiscating the assets of russian oligarchs and high-ranking officials.
The United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission have established a REPO task force (Russian Elites, Proxies, Oligarch) that collects evidence and exchanges information on asset freezing and confiscation. The US Treasury Department gave REPO a list of 50 russians who are priorities for the task’s work, 28 of them were made public.
In parallel, the US has launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program. It offers people who provide information about the assets of russian corrupt officials a reward of USD 5 mln if the data facilitates the seizure or confiscation of assets. The program is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies.
In fact, the reward may be less. It all depends on whether the information was previously known to the investigating authorities, the risk assumed by the informant, the importance of the information that led to the restriction or seizure, confiscation, or repatriation of the assets found.