Oligarch Andrei Melnichenko had the position sensor switched off in March – now his $350 million yacht has been discovered in the port of Ra’s al-Khaimah. There the ship, unlike his “sailing yacht A”, is initially safe from the authorities.
It remains a game of cat and mouse between the sanctioned Russian billionaires and the authorities of numerous countries. The list of frozen or confiscated valuables is constantly growing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to circumvent the sanctions. But while any help is too late for mansions and accounts in the US, UK and EU, there are still ways for the oligarchs to keep their yachts safe.
“Motorjacht A” successfully escaped
A prominent example: the “motor yacht A” of the Russian oligarch Andrei Melnichenko. As the “Financial Times” reports, the billionaire has managed to maneuver at least one of his ships into safe waters: The ship is currently in the port of Ra’s al-Khaimah, north of Dubai, in the territory of the United Arab Emirates.
Because although the local authorities have committed themselves to the fight against money laundering, the rich business people are left unmolested there. There are no sanctions against beneficiaries of the invasion of Ukraine and persons close to the Russian government. Adoption of the sanctions lists of the EU or the United States is not planned.
Also read: Mutiny on the “Amadea”: the yacht crew refuses to help with the confiscation
And yet it seems that Melnichenko is now stuck with his “Motorjacht A”. Firstly, all waters of countries in which it is sanctioned are taboo, secondly, the “MY A” apparently currently has no valid registration. Because the ship was registered on the Isle of Man before the war in Ukraine. There, however, the ship was deleted from the register – it probably sails without a flag.
Dealing with oligarchs – “A dilemma for the Emirates”
Dealing with the oligarchs seems to be turning out to be a balancing act for the Emirates. A compliance expert told the Financial Times: “Faced with non-enforcement of Western sanctions, the UAE’s dilemma is how to maintain its place as an open target for capital while maintaining the appearance of a good citizen of the world.” EU officials said: “We do not want our allies to become middlemen for the Putin regime.”
The Arab government has insisted on remaining neutral — supporting Ukraine with humanitarian supplies and calling for an end to hostilities, it said. Some Emirati residents even resent pressure from Western nations on the government to go along with the sanctions. The reason: For decades, cities like London had made a fortune with Russian money – and now they want to prevent the Arab countries from benefiting from the investments of the oligarchs, a local lawyer told the “Financial Times”.
Many Russians are disappearing from the radar
Against the background of the attack on Ukraine, however, the world for oligarchs is becoming smaller and smaller: Currently, there are only a few waters in which the ships can hide from access by the authorities. Popular destinations are the Maldives, parts of the Caribbean and the Arabian Seas. For this reason, more and more owners are switching off the actually prescribed AIS positioning system – including “motor yacht A”, which deactivated the transmission of its position data shortly after “sailing yacht A” was arrested. The star reported in this article which ships are still affected.
Andrei Melnichenko is the only ship left with the “motor yacht A” – his “sailing yacht A” is in the hands of the Italian government and has been stuck in the port of Trieste for months. The chances of leaving Italy by ship at short notice are slim.
What: Financial Times