Spain detains yacht linked to Russian oligarch in Barcelona | Spain

View of the yacht ‘Valerie’, moored in the port of Barcelona, ​​on March 2.

The Directorate General of the Merchant Marine ordered on Monday to retain the Valerie, an 85-meter-long yacht moored in the port of Barcelona, ​​to comply with European sanctions against Russian oligarchs. This ship, valued at 130 million euros, is linked to tycoon Sergey Chemezov, number one of Rostec, the Russian state-owned arms giant. Between the oligarch and the ship, there is a complex network of companies in tax havens, as revealed Pandora’s Papersan investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in which EL PAÍS and La Sexta in Spain participated.

In recent weeks, the government, through the General Directorate of Merchant Shipping, had already requested information from ports about Russian-flagged or Russian-owned ships in order to consider possible sanctions. The Navy does not have the power to seize assets, so it remains to be clarified how these possible interventions would be applied and if and how assets could be confiscated, just as France or Italy do.

The order of the Merchant Navy, to which EL PAÍS had access, explains that it will detain the ship “to contrast and verify” its ownership. The vessel flies the flag of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and is in the name of a front company. In this sense, the Spanish authorities highlight “the difficulties” in identifying the beneficial owner in cases such as this due to the use of intermediaries to conceal the true owner.

The objective of the detention is to find out if behind this company there is anyone affected by the sanctions that the European Union has imposed on hundreds of high officials, businessmen and oligarchs who supported the Russian invasion from Ukraine. It thus seeks to requisition, as demanded by Europe, the “economic resources” that the sanctioned use to obtain advantages, goods or services.

To research Pandora’s Papers revealed that the ship’s owner is Delima Services Limited, a Virgin Islands company linked to Anastasia Igantova, daughter of Chemezov’s second wife and a university professor. Virgin Islands jurisdiction is extremely opaque and its business structures are often used to hide the true ownership of businesses or assets.

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The service provider’s internal documents off the coast Trident Trust revealed that Delimta is not the only opaque company controlled by Chemezon’s daughter-in-law. He is also linked to Linkpoint Services Limited, a company which has served to control some $40 million in assets, and Sightvie Consultants Limited, which has been used as an investment vehicle. Both companies, from the British Virgin Islands, are linked to Delime Services Limited, the company that controls the yacht Valerie.

the Valerie, a ship built in 2011 by German shipyard Lurssen, is not the only asset Chemezov’s relatives control in Europe through opaque companies. The ICIJ survey of their assets, released by consortium members iStories and OCCRP, puts the value of what they own through these types of businesses at $400 million.

Already in 2017, another journalistic investigation revealed that Chemezov’s daughter-in-law and other close friends of the tycoon acquired properties on the Costa Brava through companies located in various tax havens. A villa stood out in the urbanization of S’Agaró Vell (Castell-Platja d’Aro, Girona), in one of the most privileged areas of the Costa Brava.

Spain thus joins for the first time European countries that have begun to take action against the assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs, although it has not yet confiscated the properties as other countries do. Last week, Italian police seized several mansions and two yachts on the island of Sardinia, in Lake Como and in the Tuscany region. The boats belonged to Alexei Mordashov, Russia’s richest man, and Gennady Timchenko, one of Vladimir Putin’s closest associates. The villas belonged to billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov and politician Oleg Savchenko. The transalpine police also intervened in several properties linked to Vladimir Solovyov, presenter of the Russian channel Russia-1. The sanctions also corner the oligarchs on the Côte d’Azur, where they own dozens of mansions and luxury boats, or in the United Kingdom.

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