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U.S. Treasury Blacklists Megayacht Brokerage for Ties to Russian Elite

flying fox yacht
Flying Fox (Hermann Maurer / CC BY 2.0)

Published Jun 2, 2022 5:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on a Monaco-based yacht services company with ties to the Russian elite, part of its ongoing efforts to target assets connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle. 

Imperial Yachts is a Russian-managed brokerage headquartered in Monaco, and it provides a full portfolio of megayacht services, from design and ordering to chartering and shipmanagement. It maintains a Moscow office and - according to the Treasury - is a popular choice of Russia's yacht-owning elite. The company serves at least one vessel linked to a U.S.-sanctioned individual. 

The Treasury has listed Imperial Yachts and its CEO, Russian national Evgeniy Borisovich Kockman, for the offense of operating or having operated in the marine sector of the Russian economy. It also specifically identified one yacht connected to Imperial Yachts, the Flying Fox, as blocked property. 

In addition, Treasury sanctioned a $65 million yacht with connections to blacklisted oligarch Andrei Kostin, CEO of VTB Bank. Kostin's Sea Rhapsody is a Marshall Islands-flagged superyacht and is currently located in the Seychelles, a jurisdiction that has attracted many Russian expatriates since the start of the invasion.

“Russia’s elites, up to and including President Putin, rely on complex support networks to hide, move, and maintain their wealth and luxury assets,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. “We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves.”

In a statement transmitted by an American crisis PR firm, Imperial Yachts disputed the U.S. Treasury's findings and said that it would pursue all legal remedies to reverse the department's decision.

Four yachts linked to Putin

The Treasury also named four yachts as blocked property for alleged links to Putin himself. The first, the Russia-flagged Graceful, has long been suspected of connections to the Russian president, and these suspicions were only strengthened when the vessel fled Germany for Kaliningrad ahead of the invasion of Ukraine. 

The Caymans-flagged Olympia was also named. According to the Treasury, Putin has taken multiple trips aboard Olympia and Graceful, including one voyage in the company of Belarusian dictator Aleksander Lukashenka (who is also a sanctioned individual). 

The companies connected to the two vessels have also been listed, including SCF Management Services Cyprus, Ironstone Marine Investments, JSC Argument, and O’Neill Assets Corporation, along with JSC Argument’s sole shareholder, Andrei Valeryevich Gasilov.

The Treasury also named two yachts owned by Revival of Maritime Traditions, a nonprofit with links to Putin. The department alleges that the Revival-owned Nega has been used by Putin personally for travel in Russia's northern regions, and the yacht Shellest has traveled to the shores of Putin's notorious and opulent Black Sea Palace estate.

A far larger vessel, the $700 million megayacht Scheherazade, is conspicuously absent from the list. It is owned on paper by a modestly prosperous Russian executive, but U.S. authorities have previously alleged that Scheherazade is Putin's personal yacht. Researchers working for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny claim to have obtained records showing that half of Scheherazade's crew were employed by Putin's personal security service, the FSO.

Top image: Flying Fox (Hermann Maurer / CC BY 2.0)