Russian Yacht Seized by Court in Barcelona

Valerie at Ibiza, 2014 (JanManu / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published Nov 6, 2022 5:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

A court in Spain has ordered the seizure of the Russian-owned yacht Meridian A due to unpaid shipyard bills, according to Bloomberg. Spanish authorities temporarily froze the vessel's movements in early March, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Meridian A, formerly Valerie, is an iconic 280-foot Lurssen yacht delivered in 2011. The owner of the $140 million vessel reportedly owes maintenance fees to a well-known yacht repair yard in Barcelona, MB92. The yard's fee claim led to Meridian A's relocation to a nearby marina in September.

A court has now ordered the yacht's seizure, potentially opening the way to an asset auction to cover the unpaid bills. As an indication of the vessel's potential value at auction, Meridian A was listed for sale last year at an asking price of $110 million but failed to secure a buyer. 

While Meridian A was initially detained on suspicions of an ownership connection to a sanctioned individual, the court order for seizure is not directly driven by sanctions enforcement. Since the proceeding was initiated as a dispute over unpaid dues, it is possible that it may proceed more quickly. 

Meridian A is suspected to belong to Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Rostec, Russia's massive state-owned weapons conglomerate. He began his career a Soviet intelligence agent in the 1980s, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two have worked together since their days in the KGB. Putin appointed Chemezov to his current post by decree in 2007. 

Rostec is the parent company for the Russian defense aerospace sector, including United Aircraft Corporation, Russian Helicopters and United Engine Corporation. It also owns firearm maker Kalashnikov, truck maker Kamaz, tank builder Uralvagonzavod and arms exporter Rosboronexport. 

A different Russian-linked vessel, the Axioma, was seized and sold at auction in Gibraltar in August under similar circumstances. The civil case against Axioma was initiated by JP Morgan, which held a $20 million mortgage on the vessel and had not been repaid. Axioma sold for $37.5 million, about half of her assessed value. 

Top image: Valerie at Ibiza, 2014 (JanManu / CC BY SA 4.0)