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Britain Seizez Russian Superyacht – The New York Times

Britain Seizez Russian Superyacht The New York Times


LONDON — It is called the Phi, and the sleek 192-foot-long superyacht worth about $50 million, which has a wine cellar and swimming pool, is a display of wealth that stands out even in a capital known for its ultrarich.

On Tuesday, the Russian-owned vessel, which is docked at London’s Canary Wharf, stood out for another reason: It had just been detained by the British authorities.

The Phi is the first such vessel to be detained in British waters in what the government said was a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and his associates that Britain was going after those benefiting from their links to the Kremlin. Britain’s National Crime Agency said the yacht was owned by a Russian businessman, whom it did not identify.

“Today we’ve detained a £38m superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies,” Grant Shapps, the British secretary of state for transport, said in a statement.

The seizure of the Phi comes amid a global effort prompted by the invasion of Ukraine to to put pressure on the Russian president by hurting those close to him. In places like Italy, France and Spain — and now Britain — the authorities have been targeting superyachts tied to Russian oligarchs.

The Phi was built in the Netherlands by Royal Huisman, a prestigious shipbuilder, and it is the company’s third-biggest yacht, according to the crime agency, a national law enforcement agency which, among other things, fights organized and economic crime.

The agency said the ownership of the yacht had been deliberately well hidden, and that the vessel was registered to a company based in the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, and carried Maltese flags.

The ship was moored in Canary Wharf and was planning to depart at midday today, the Department of Transport said, before it was detained. It was first identified as being potentially owned by a Russian on March 13, the department said, and further investigations led to its detention.

The Department of Transport said it was investigating a number of other vessels. “Detaining the Phi, proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from Russian connections,” Mr. Schnapps said.



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