Russian billionaire’s £443m superyacht seized in Italy as part of global oligarch crackdown

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A Russian-owned superyacht valued at £443m has been confiscated by Italian police in the port of Trieste as part of a global crackdown on wealthy oligarchs.

The Sy A yacht is owned by billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, 50, who made a fortune in fertiliser production and coal.

The vessel was seized on Friday evening.

Designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug in Germany, the vessel is the world’s biggest sailing yacht at 143m in length.

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An Italian officer boards Melnichenko's superyacht

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An Italian officer boards Melnichenko’s superyacht

Footage shows police cars approaching the triple-masted yacht and officers boarding it.

Italian authorities last week seized £120m in luxury yachts and villas belonging to Russian billionaires in picturesque retreats such as Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como as part of sanctions against oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin.

A statement from the Official Journal of the European Union described Melnichenko as belonging to the “most influential circle of Russian businesspeople with close connections to the Russian Government”.

It added: “On 24 February 2022, in the aftermath of the initial stages of Russian aggression against Ukraine, Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, along with other 36 businesspeople, met with President Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian government to discuss the impact of the course of action in the wake of Western sanctions.

The 142.81 metre sail-assisted yacht in front of Monaco harbour in 2017

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The 142.81 metre sail-assisted yacht in front of Monaco harbour in 2017

“The fact that he was invited to attend this meeting shows that he is a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.”

A spokesperson for Melnichenko said the businessman had “no relation to the tragic events in Ukraine and has no political affiliations”.

“There is no justification whatsoever for placing him on the EU sanctions list.

“We will be disputing these baseless and unjustified sanctions, and believe that the rule of law and common sense will prevail.”

It comes after Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government.

The Chelsea Football Club owner is one of seven more Russian oligarchs who have had sanctions placed on them by ministers in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A government document announcing the move said that Abramovich has had a “close relationship for decades” with Putin.

FILE - Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich sits in his box before their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Dec. 19, 2015.Unpreceded restrictions have been placed on Chelsea’s ability to operate by the British government after owner Roman Abramovich is targeted in sanctions. Abramovich is among seven wealthy Russians who had their assets frozen by the government. It freezes his ability to sell Chelsea which was announced last week a

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Roman Abramovich is the most high-profile oligarch to be sanctioned by Britain

The UK is the first nation to sanction Abramovich, who has been described by the government as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch”.

The government has now sanctioned more than 200 individuals and entities.

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