As part of the efforts of the European Union, Britain and the United States to pursue the fortune of the oligarch and officials in the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the military operation in Ukraine, the Italian police are these days chasing a luxury yacht worth 700 million dollars.
Italian authorities enlisted their officials to verify ownership of the yacht, “Scheherazade,” after US officials announced that it was linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, before it headed to sea, avoiding possible sanctions, according to a report in the New York Times.
The information revealed that the yacht, which has a height of 459 feet, had been moored in the Tuscan port in the Italian Marina di Carrara for several months, but the crew began on Tuesday the preparations for sailing.
The yacht’s crew also indicated that it may be ready to sail immediately, after sea trials to verify its equipment, especially since it stayed in place for months.
Is Putin the owner of “Scheherazade”?
According to investigations, the unknown owner of the ship was not sanctioned until last March, while Italian media revealed that he was named as Eduard Khdianatov, an oil tycoon and long-time partner of Igor Sechin, a close ally of Putin and head of the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters)
However, the former Scheherazade crew member, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that he had never heard that the yacht was owned by Khdyanatov, saying that it was usually indicated on board that Scheherazade’s real owner was Putin.
A team of journalists working with the Russian opposition also obtained a list of crew members stating that many of them were employees of the Russian agency guarding Putin.
Fears of escaping
In addition, a spokeswoman for the Italian financial police, which is leading the national and international investigation into the ownership of Scheherazade, said that if the ship left before the investigation was completed, there would be nothing the authorities could do to stop it.
However, Italian authorities are monitoring the yacht, while a police helicopter is making daily flights.
It is noteworthy that the face of “Scheherazade” is not yet clear, but the movements of giant yachts owned by Russia, which succeeded in evading US, European or British sanctions, mostly went to Turkey or the Maldives, and sometimes managed to reach Russia.
Despite this, European countries succeeded in seizing dozens of yachts belonging to wealthy people close to the circles of Russian power under international sanctions, including Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.
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