Superyacht linked to sanctioned Russian on sale for 29.5 mln euros

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A US-based luxury yacht broker is listing for sale a 168-foot (51-meter) superyacht linked to sanctioned Russian billionaire Igor Kesaev for 29.5 million euros (about $29 million), according to a email seen by Reuters.

The proposed sale of the MySky yacht, which was revealed in an emailed announcement from the brokerage firm to undisclosed recipients on September 14, comes amid concern from Western governments and billionaire activists like Kesaev that they have been able to avoid a mosaic of international sanctions. targeting their luxury assets such as yachts.

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The EU and UK sanctioned Kesaev in April following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the EU citing his involvement in the production of military weapons and the distribution of tobacco in Russia, as well as links to the Russian government “and its security forces.” The United States has not sanctioned Kesaev, and the US Treasury did not respond to requests for comment.

Sara Gioanola, a spokeswoman for Heesen Yachts, the Dutch company that built MySky, confirmed that Kesaev commissioned it and another yacht, named Sky.

Reuters could not independently confirm that Kesaev still has direct ownership of MySky.

An article about Kesaev’s daughter and her art gallery in the spring 2021 edition of Heesen magazine noted that “the Kesaev family is well known to Heesen, having commissioned Sky and MySky during last decade”.

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A spokesman for Kesaev declined to answer questions about the yacht’s ownership or its impending sale.

The ad seen by Reuters was sent from an email address for the Fort Lauderdale, Florida firm Merle Wood & Associates, which bills itself as “one of the leading yacht brokerage firms worldwide.” It was broadcast privately with a warning not to post the ad publicly. Reuters was unable to determine the recipients.

The yacht, named MySky, features “ultra-modern sophisticated interiors” by a well-known Dutch architect, a “climate-controlled indoor gym” and a deck that can be used to land helicopters, according to the announcement.

Merle A. Wood, listed as the point of contact in the MySky ad, told Reuters by phone that he knows nothing about the yacht’s owner and referred Reuters to a different agent, Burgess, who he described as the lead broker in the proposed sale. . Wood referred all questions to Burgess, which has offices in London, Monaco and other major markets.

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A spokesman for the Burgess company, Nicci Perides, said in a WhatsApp message that he is “unable to answer questions about the yacht” and referred questions to Wood, who did not respond to additional requests for comment.

Clara Portela, a sanctions expert at the University of Valencia, said that since there are no US sanctions on Kesaev, US companies or buyers could be involved in the sale of yachts without incurring the sanctions.

A Reuters check of Burgess’ website on Wednesday found that MySky was available for charter bookings. As of Thursday, Burgess had removed the listing from MySky’s letter after Reuters asked.

Merle Wood’s ad said the yacht was in the Maldives. Reuters photographed the ship in waters off the Indian Ocean island republic in early March, days after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

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Yachts linked to sanctioned Russians have appeared in destinations such as the Maldives and Turkey in recent months as authorities in the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions and sought to seize these assets. Maldivian authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the European Commission, which manages EU sanctions, said European leaders are encouraging other countries to align their policies with the EU, but said sanctions only apply within the EU’s jurisdiction. EU

A spokesman for the UK Treasury said it does not comment on individual cases but “takes enforcement action in all reported cases of suspected non-compliance with financial sanctions”.

Roland Papp, who tracks illicit financial flows at Transparency International EU, said the often secretive nature of sales involving superyachts meant authorities were highly unlikely to learn of such transactions.

“It’s very easy to try to avoid sanctions this way,” he said. (Reporting by Chris Kirkham in Los Angeles. Additional reporting by David Gauthier-Villars in Istanbul, Alasdair Pal in New Delhi and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam. Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Claudia Parsons)



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