A Russian oligarch’s $500M mega yacht is roiling U.S.-Hong Kong relations

It was the mega yacht that got away. When Western sanctions hit Vladimir Putin’s allies earlier this year following the Russian leader’s invasion of Ukraine, their luxury yachts were seized one after another in jurisdictions around the world.

But not him north, a $500 million ship tied to steel magnate Alexey Mordashov. This spring, the ultra-luxury yacht risked a collision by turning off its transponders and racing at full steam to return to Vladivostok from the Indian Ocean, evading Western authorities.

Now, infuriatingly for US officials, it is up for all to see in Hong Kong, and the authorities are doing nothing about it.

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s maritime department said Financial Times:

“Certain countries may impose unilateral sanctions against certain sites based on their own considerations,” but the Hong Kong government “does not implement, nor do we have the legal authority to take action on, unilateral sanctions imposed by other jurisdictions.”

American officials were not impressed. State Department officials told the UK paper that “Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial center depends on adherence to international laws and standards… The potential use of Hong Kong as a safe haven by of individuals evading sanctions from multiple jurisdictions further questions the transparency of the business environment.”

Others agreed.

“It would greatly increase the risks if Hong Kong were widely seen as a popular destination for the assets of sanctioned Russian corporations or individuals,” Ryan Mitchell, who teaches international law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in the paper. He added: “Corporations or individuals based in Hong Kong should be aware that they could later face secondary sanctions if they enter into business transactions or relationships with Russian sanctions targets.”

Mordashov has close ties to Putin and earned his billions as chairman of Severstal, a Russian steel and mining giant.

Not all of his yachts escaped, however. In April, Italy seized the Mrs. M superyacht in the port of Imperia after the European Union blacklisted Mordashov. This yacht, however, is valued at just $27 million and measures just 215 feet.

The north, on the other hand, stretches 465 feet and is valued at half a million dollars. A Superyacht Times The video about the ship, made by a German shipyard, has garnered more than 570,000 views on YouTube.

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