Apr 13, 2022 - World

How many Russian oligarchs' yachts have been seized so far

Data: Axios research; Table: Will Chase/Axios
Data: Axios research; Table: Will Chase/Axios

More than a dozen yachts owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs have been seized — or identified for seizure — since the invasion of Ukraine began, according to public reports reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: The fleet of yachts impounded around the world so far is worth more than $2.5 billion. That's, ultimately, a drop in the bucket of sanctioned Russian assets, yet one that's garnered outsized publicity as a symbol of the plundered wealth enjoyed for so long by Vladimir Putin's cronies.

The big picture: The day after President Biden's State of the Union address last month, the Justice Department announced the formation of a special task force intent on using "every tool to freeze and seize" the assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

  • Task Force KleptoCapture's first trophy was secured last week. Spanish authorities acted at the request of the U.S. to seize a $90 million, 255-foot yacht owned by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.
  • Authorities have separately seized or moored Russian-owned yachts docked in Italy, France, Croatia, the U.K., the Dominican Republic, Germany, and Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Desperate to find safe harbor, some oligarchs have set for international waters or countries that have not been enforcing Western sanctions.

What to watch: A community of online spectators has coalesced under the Twitter hashtag #YachtWatch.

  • Some accounts like @SanctionsAhoy are providing automated updates that track the movement of select oligarch yachts.
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