A giant superyacht linked to Vladimir Putin was seized by Italian authorities on Friday after they recommended it be impounded as part of sanctions against Russia.
Authorities in Italy said the $700 million superyacht, called ‘The Scheherazade,’ which is more than 450ft long and boasts spas, swimming pools, and two helicopter pads was connected to a “significant person” but did not specify.
The yacht has been the subject of an investigation by Italian financial police since the end of March and has been in dock at Marina di Carrara near Pisa since September undergoing a refit.
The late night announcement came after fears grew that The Scheherazde was about to slip away and head to international waters to avoid any possible sanctions.
A statement from the Italian Financial Police said: “After verification by the fiscal authorities it has come to light that there is a significant economic connection between the owner of The Scheherazade and senior elements of the Russian government.”
“On the basis of these elements,” it was said, “it has been recommended that the yacht be placed on the current European Union sanctions list and the Minister of Finance in Rome has agreed.”
Superyacht linked to Putin and Khudainatov
The exact owner of the Scheherazade has not been established, but US officials told the New York Times it could belong to Russia’s president.
Supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have also linked the 140m vessel to President Putin.
Other reports suggest that the yacht is owned by Eduard Khudainatov, the former chief of Russian energy giant Rosneft who is not currently a target of EU sanctions.
The six-deck Scheherazade is one of the largest and most-expensive privately-owned boats in the world with space equivalent to two apartment blocks.
The yacht has room for eighteen guests in nine luxury cabins in addition to a crew of forty, residing in twenty cabins and boasts two helipads, a royal suite, a swimming pool, a spa, and a beauty salon.
However, since its launch in 2020, the yacht’s true ownership has been cloaked in absolute secrecy.
Superyachts linked to Russian oligarchs
Many superyachts are linked to Russian billionaires but ownership is shrouded in secrecy; they are often registered through a series of offshore companies.
Several have already been seized by Western countries.
Last month, Germany seized the world’s largest superyacht after “extensive investigations” determined that it is owned by the sister of the sanctioned Russian oligarch, Alisher Usmanov.
Germany’s federal crime office (BKA) said that despite efforts at what it called “offshore concealment,” it had determined that the yacht’s owner is Usmanov’s sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova, who is also sanctioned.