rench authorities say they have seized a yacht linked to Igor Sechin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of European Union sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The French Finance Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that customs authorities carried out an inspection of the yacht Amore Vero in the Mediterranean resort of La Ciotat.
The boat arrived in La Ciotat on January 3 for repairs and was slated to stay until April 1. When French customs officers arrived to inspect the yacht, its crew was preparing an urgent departure even though the repair work wasn’t finished, the statement said.
The boat was seized to prevent its departure.
It says the boat is owned by a company that lists Mr Sechin as its primary shareholder. Mr Sechin runs Russian oil giant Rosneft.
It comes as Hamburg port authorities denied reports that a $600 million luxury yacht owned by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov had been seized after he was hit with EU sanctions.
According to the US business magazine Forbes, the 512-foot yacht, Dilbar, was taken in the northern port of Hamburg, with the magazine citing three sources in the yacht industry.
But a spokeswoman for the Hamburg Ministry of Economics and Innovation told German website Spiegel: “No yachts were confiscated in the Port of Hamburg.” The Dilbar was reported to be in Hamburg’s shipyard Blohm+Voss for repair work although it remains unclear if it will be allowed to leave.
Mr Usmanov was a major shareholder in Arsenal until 2018 and owns two properties in the UK, including a mansion in Highgate which he bought for £48million in 2008. On Wednesday Everton Football Club suspended all sponsorship deals with Russian companies associated with Mr Usmanov, who has close links with the club’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
The EU included the Uzbekistan-born billionaire on a list of 26 individuals with links to the Russian Government who will now face sanctions following Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine.
In a statement issued on March 1, after the EU announced he had been sanctioned, Mr Usmanov said: “I believe that such a decision is unfair and the reasons employed to justify the sanctions are a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honour, dignity and business reputation.”
Mr Usmanov is not included in a list of nine Russian individuals targeted by the British Government for having close ties to Mr Putin and the Kremlin.
On Thursday a Minister defended the Government’s steps on sanctions insisting they were not running scared of lawyers representing UK linked oligarchs.
Security Minister Damian Hinds said the UK had announced a “comprehensive” programme of sanctions and economic measures. He told the BBC: “It’s not a competition, it’s something we do together to make sure we have maximum impact. We’ve always been clear it’s a ratchet approach. There will also be more [individuals]. We are not going to tell people in advance.”
But the Labour MP Chris Bryant, who has been an outspoken critic of the Government’s failure to widen its sanctions list along with other western governments, tweeted: “I don’t understand why we haven’t seized a single Putin oligarch yacht, palace or serious asset yet. Unlike our European neighbours.”