Despite sanctions imposed by western governments, Hong Kong has confirmed it will not seize a Russian oligarch’s luxurious superyacht, which has entered its waters.
Alexei Mordashov, an ally of President Putin and one of Russia’s richest men, was sanctioned by the UK, U.S. and the EU shortly after the start of Putin’s illegal ongoing invasion of Ukraine in February.
Larger than a football pitch, the billionaire’s $521m superyacht has been described by Forbes as one of the world’s most extravagant private boats.
One of Mordashov’s smaller vessels, the “Lady M”’ was seized by Italian police in the port of Imperia, after a series of seafaring boats belonging to other Putin-associated oligarchs were seized in March. However, his prized superyacht has so far managed to avoid being seized.
Setting sail from Russia, the boat arrived in Hong Kong last week.
Stating that they were not bound to adhere to the sanctions, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said on Tuesday, Oct. 11 that Hong Kong was not accountable to “unilateral sanctions” imposed by “individual jurisdictions,” and that they would only comply with the United Nations sanctions, adding: “that is our system, that is our rule of law.”
The superyacht is currently docked in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.
“Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial centre depends on adherence to international laws and standards,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said on Tuesday afternoon. “The possible use of Hong Kong as a safe haven by individuals evading sanctions from multiple jurisdictions further calls into question the transparency of the business environment.”
Mordashov’s isn’t the only superyacht that has managed to avoid being seized. Valued at $120m, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s second-largest superyacht, recently renamed the “Kosatka” (“Killer whale”), was spotted off the coast of Estonia at the of last month, according to a report.
Formerly named the “Graceful“, the 267-foot luxury boat was sighted by photographer Carl Groll, who snapped it on its voyage back to Putin’s home city, St. Petersburg.
Putin’s vessel fled German waters upon Russia’s instigation of its invasion of Ukraine in February, and has so far managed to evade being compounded. It was photographed travelling north through the Baltic Sea whilst being escorted by a Russian coastguard ship.
Back in February, German tabloid Bild reported that the superyacht had made a hasty escape before repairs could be finished, cutting short a five-month refit at the shipyards of Blohm & Voss, the company that built the yacht in 2014.
Seeking to go under the radar, the ship’s captain turned off the transponder, according to ship tracking service Marine Traffic, before leaving the port of Hamburg on Feb. 7.
The yacht boasts an array of luxurious features, including a gym, spiral staircase, swimming pool, and gold-covered interiors.
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