Britain seizes Russian-owned superyacht linked to mystery oligarch

Officers intercepted the £38m vessel, named 'Phi', which was carrying Maltese flags to hide its origins

The superyacht 'Phi' owned by a Russian businessman in Canary Wharf, East London. PA
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The UK has seized the first Russian-owned superyacht in its waters since announcing a raft of sanctions against more than 1,000 individuals and businesses.

The £38 million ($49.8m) yacht, Phi, was first identified as belonging to a Russian oligarch on March 13, the government said.

It had been moored in Canary Wharf, East London, after making its maiden voyage in December from the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Tuesday that the move was part of the government's initiative to take “robust action” against individuals with links to Russia.

“The Department for Transport has worked closely with the National Crime Agency and Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau to intercept the superyacht,” the spokesman said.

“We will continue to take robust action against anyone benefiting from Russian links.”

The identity of the yacht's owner has not been disclosed.

Phi is registered to a company in the islands of St Kitts and Nevis but it was carrying Maltese flags to hide its origins when it was seized.

The 58.5-metre yacht is the third biggest built by shipbuilder Royal Huisman in the Netherlands and includes a wine cellar and a freshwater swimming pool. It was delivered to its owner in 2021.

She can accommodate up to 12 guests in six staterooms, with 11 crew members.

The yacht was detained under legislation to enforce sanctions against Russia.

Putin’s friends who made millions out of his regime will not enjoy luxuries while innocent people die
Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary

The UK Department for Transport is continuing to investigate a number of other vessels.

At the weekend, the UK said it was “indefinitely” detaining two private jets belonging to a Russian oligarch hit with sanctions.

The planes were owned by Eugene Shvidler, a friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has been placed under sanctions by the UK and EU. The measures are aimed at helping to end the war in Ukraine.

The two planes are at Biggin Hill and Farnborough airfields, south of London.

“Since [President Vladimir] Putin began his illegal assault, I’ve held jets belonging to Eugene Shvidler under investigation for three weeks,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Saturday.

“Now, I am using my powers to detain them indefinitely. Putin’s friends who made millions out of his regime will not enjoy luxuries while innocent people die.”

The two seized aircraft are a $45 million Bombardier Global 6500 jet and a $13m Cessna Citation Latitude jet.

Superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs - in pictures

Updated: March 29, 2022, 1:47 PM