Russian oligarchs’ yachts “going dark” to avoid sanction threat - media

Russian oligarchs’ yachts “going dark” to avoid sanction threat - media

An investigation by the Observer this weekend reveals at least six superyachts linked to UK-sanctioned oligarchs which have “gone dark” on ocean tracking systems.

The owners of these yachts will almost certainly realize they are at risk of being targeted in a global hunt for the assets of Russia’s super-rich, The Guardian reports.

At least 13 such vessels with a total value of nearly GBP 2 billion have already been impounded since the invasion of Ukraine, from southern France to Fiji. In the latter case, the superyacht Amadea, allegedly linked to the gold billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, was seized on behalf of the US.

Read also: Spain seizes Russian oligarch's $140M yacht in Barcelona

Analysts report an increase in Russian-linked yachts which are turning off the automatic identification system (AIS) equipment used for tracking large vessels. The system can be turned off for legitimate reasons, but experts believe some vessels want to avoid detection.

One member of crew on a superyacht linked to a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the UK told the Observer last week: “We were told to turn off the AIS. We removed the screws on the power plug and pulled it out.”

An analysis by the Observer of AIS data compiled by the maritime and aviation market intelligence firm VesselsValue reveals other superyachts which have “gone dark” for more than a month include:

 The 72-meter superyacht Clio, linked to industrialist Oleg Deripaska, which sailed from the Indian Ocean to Turkey after the invasion. Its last transmitted location was on 18 April in the Black Sea, within range of the Russian ports of Sochi and Novorossiysk.

The 70-meter Galactica Super Nova, linked to the oligarch Vagit Alekperov, the sanctioned former president of Lukoil. The last transmitted location of the vessel was on 2 March off the Croatian coast.

The 140-meter Ocean Victory, linked to the sanctioned oligarch Viktor Rashnikov, which last transmitted its location at anchor in the Maldives on 1 March.

Read also: Zelensky: Pressure on Russia is a matter of saving lives

There are about 9,300 superyachts on the seas, worth more than GBP 50 billion, according to industry data. An estimated 10% of that fleet is owned by Russians.

None of the sanctioned oligarchs linked to the six superyachts suspected of turning off their AIS responded to a request for comment.

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