Oleg Deripaska’s superyacht sails on as sanctions bite

Oleg V. Deripaska. (Image by World Economic Forum, Flickr).

Clio, a $65 million superyacht tied to Oleg Deripaska, the Russian aluminum billionaire whose connections to Vladimir Putin have put him on sanctions lists, is on the move again after being anchored off the Maldives.

The 239-foot yacht had been in the Indian Ocean for at least two months as scrutiny around Deripaska and other oligarchs close to Russia’s president increased following the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Clio anchored in Gocek, Turkey Saturday morning local time and is now sailing in the region, according to vessel data analyzed by Bloomberg News.

Deripaska, who has been under U.S. sanctions since 2018, sits atop an industrial conglomerate that includes a major provider of military equipment to Russia. The European Union sanctioned him earlier this month on the same day the bloc targeted Putin’s adult daughters. The U.S. and EU have levied sanctions on tycoons and those accused of enabling Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Authorities in the U.S. and allies in the U.K., Italy, France and Germany are trying to locate the luxury boats and other properties of Russian tycoons.

Nearly a dozen yachts have already been seized — Italian authorities arrested a 530 million euro ($578 million) superyacht owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, while Spain seized Viktor Vekselberg’s $90 million Tango as well as the $600 million Crescent believed to belong to Igor Sechin, head of Moscow-based Rosneft Oil Co.

A representative for Melnichenko said he has no political affiliation and will be challenging his inclusion on the EU sanctions list.

Clio, which sleeps 18 and has its own elevator, previously appeared to be on the move around March 20, heading northwest from the Maldives. On March 21, its automatic identification system, or AIS, displayed a message that would have been inputted by the crew indicating there was “armed security” on board, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That message isn’t unusual to ward off pirates in the region. 

A few days later, the AIS showed Clio was headed to Dubai, before making a U-turn south, displaying it was en route to Mumbai. It then made its way back to Male, the capital of the Maldives, where it had been anchored, ahead of the 3,000-mile (4,828-kilometer) journey northwest through the Red Sea and Suez Canal toward Port Said.

The actions by the U.S. and its allies have scattered Russian yachts to locales perceived as less likely to seize the pleasure boats, including parts of the Middle East and the Caribbean, according to space-based analytics and data firm Spire Global Inc. Megayachts owned by Russians account for as much as 10% of the global fleet, according to industry watcher The Super Yacht Group.

Fijian authorities were surprised this week by the arrival of the $325 million Amadea yacht owned by sanctioned gold tycoon Suleiman Kerimov, local media reported. Fiji port requirements state that any yacht arriving in the country must obtain approval from government ministries.

The Turkish coast seems to be a favored destination for Russian yachts, including Roman Abramovich’s Solaris. Many vessels owned by sanctioned moguls have gone dark and stopped broadcasting their locations, in contravention to international maritime law.

(By K. Oanh Ha, with assistance from Kevin Varley)

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