Luxury Superyacht Linked to Putin Undergoes Refurbishment During Seizure

**Superyacht Linked to Vladimir Putin Being Refitted in Italian Port Despite Impoundment**

A superyacht that is allegedly linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently undergoing a refurbishment in an Italian port, despite having been impounded last year under European Union (EU) sanctions. The Financial Times reported this development, which raises questions about the enforcement of sanctions and the owner’s identity.

**Refurbishment of the Superyacht Scheherazade**

According to Sea Group SpA, an Italian company, they are responsible for refurbishing the 459-foot superyacht called Scheherazade. The company stated that the yacht’s owner has been paying for the “refit” and maintenance. However, they declined to provide further details regarding the owner’s identity, as reported by the Financial Times.

**The Allegations and the “Straw Owner”**

Last year, Bloomberg reported that US authorities alleged the involvement of a little-known Russian oligarch in the ownership of the $650-million yacht. This oligarch, who does not appear on any recognized list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, is believed to have acted as the “straw owner.” This raises questions about the true extent of the oligarch’s involvement and the actual ownership of the superyacht.

**Evidence of Putin’s Security Agency Connection**

In March 2022, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team revealed evidence regarding the Scheherazade. They disclosed that the yacht, currently impounded at Marina di Carrara in Tuscany, was staffed by individuals who worked for the agency responsible for Putin’s security. Italy responded by ordering the seizure of the yacht in May 2022, claiming that it is linked to top levels of the Russian government that are subject to EU sanctions.

**Impounded Russian Superyachts and Their Maintenance Costs**

Bloomberg previously reported that impounded Russian superyachts around the world are imposing significant maintenance costs on taxpayers. In Italy alone, at least four vessels, including the Scheherazade, have been impounded. This particular yacht is equipped with two helipads and a pool that can be transformed into a dance floor. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Italy’s state property agency has been spending an estimated $40 million annually for the maintenance of these vessels.

**Implications of the Recent Refit**

In the case of the recent refit of the Scheherazade, Italian authorities allowed the owner to cover the expenses for the “maintenance works.” This decision raises concerns about the effectiveness of the impoundment and the enforcement of EU sanctions. It begs the question of whether the refit is a way for the owner to maintain control over the superyacht while evading the impact of the impoundment.

**Reactions and Denials**

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the rumors surrounding the superyacht’s ownership as unfounded. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the European Commission stated that member states are responsible for implementing sanctions and that asset freezes do not affect asset ownership. These responses highlight the challenges and complexities in enforcing sanctions and ensuring accountability.

In conclusion, the ongoing refit of the superyacht Scheherazade, believed to be linked to Vladimir Putin, in an Italian port raises questions about the effectiveness of EU sanctions and the owner’s identity. The impoundment and subsequent maintenance costs of Russian superyachts worldwide also highlight the challenges in enforcing these measures. It remains to be seen how authorities will address these concerns and ensure compliance with sanctions in the future.

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