Italy freezes superyacht reportedly linked to Vladimir Putin

The Scheherazade 459-foot superyacht docked at the shipyard in Marina Di Carrara, Italy, on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.Francesco Mazzei | Getty ImagesWASHINGTON — The Italian government on Friday froze a yacht with reported links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, blocking the vessel from leaving its port.The Italian Finance Ministry said an investigation found “significant economic and business links” between the yacht’s beneficial owner and “prominent elements of the Russian government” and people sanctioned over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Italy did not name Putin, but various reports have linked the Russian leader to the vessel.The ownership of the yacht has “long been under the attention of the authorities,” the finance ministry said in a statement.The Cayman Island-flagged superyacht Scheherazade extends nearly 460 feet and is currently moored in the Italian port of Marina di Carrara.The moves to freeze or confiscate luxury vessels come as Western governments intensify efforts to track, identify and seize assets around the globe belonging to sanctioned Russians with ties to the Kremlin.In March, the Biden administration announced a new task force, dubbed KleptoCapture, to enforce sweeping U.S. and allied sanctions imposed on Russian elites who have helped to finance Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.On Thursday, Fijian authorities seized a $300 million superyacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. The nearly 350-foot motor yacht Amadea is reported to have an interior layout that sleeps up to 16 guests in eight cabins and is equipped with a helipad.Last month, German authorities said they had seized the world’s largest superyacht after official confirmation that the vessel had links to Russian billionaire and business tycoon Alisher Usmanov.The yacht, named Dilbar, after Usmanov’s mother, extends over 500 feet and is equipped with two helipads and the largest indoor swimming pool ever installed on a private vessel. The Treasury Department estimates that Usmanov’s yacht is worth about $735 million.

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