Superyacht Suspected of Ties to Putin Is Seized

Italian authorities boarded the Scheherazade on Friday
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2022 4:28 PM CDT
Updated May 7, 2022 10:00 AM CDT

Update: The Scheherazade isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The 459-foot, $700 million superyacht that's believed to be tied to (and possibly owned by) Russian President Vladimir Putin was ordered by the Italian government to be seized on Friday, reports Reuters. Police impounded the six-deck vessel in the port of Marina di Carrara, where it's been getting some fixes done since September. Signs had recently emerged that the yacht was getting ready to leave port soon. A statement on the seizure from Italy's finance ministry didn't say who the yacht's owner is, but noted that person had "significant economic and business connections" with "prominent elements of the Russian government and with others subject to EU sanctions," per the Guardian. Our original story from Wednesday follows:

With repairs completed, a $700 million superyacht went back into Italian waters Tuesday and is nearly ready to sail out of Marina di Carrara. The Scheherazade has been tied to Vladimir Putin and may be owned by him, the New York Times reports. That could make the 459-foot ship, which has been in the Tuscan port since September, subject to sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine or even seizure. But if the yacht takes off, probably after a few spins to make sure it's seaworthy, efforts to sanction or seize the Scheherazade become complicated. And police say they wouldn't be able to stop it from leaving.

Authorities can't do anything until they determine who owns the yacht, and they're still investigating. The ship's captain won't say who it is but said in March that the owner isn't on anyone's sanctions list. News outlets in Italy have reported that the owner is Eduard Khudainatov, an oil tycoon who's an associate of Igor Sechin, chairman of the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. Khudainatov is not on any sanctions list, but Sechin, who is close to Putin, is thought to be the owner of another superyacht that was seized in March. It's possible that Khudainatov is the ship's owner on paper only.

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A former crew member told the Times that he'd never heard of Khudainatov but that the talk on the Scheherazade is that Putin owns it. US officials have said it's connected to the Russian president, though they haven't said how. European Union, British, and US officials have seized some superyachts owned by oligarchs; others have evaded sanctions for months by staying in Turkish waters, the Maldives, or even heading to Russia. On Tuesday, Fiji gave the US the go-ahead to seize a $325 million yacht held there after agreeing the ship is owned by Suleiman Kerimov, who's been sanctioned by the US and others, per CBS News. The company the Amadea is registered to argued the real owner is Khudainatov. (More Russia sanctions stories.)

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