Italian authorities were yesterday continuing inquiries into claims the 140-metre superyacht Scheherazade moored in a Tuscan marina belongs to Vladimir Putin.
The vessel, which is said to be worth £531 million, has six decks, two helicopter pads, a swimming pool and, some speculate, an anti-drone defence system.
Italian authorities said that so far they lack conclusive proof of the owner’s identity. Associates of imprisoned Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny claimed the yacht, moored at the Tuscan resort of Marina di Carrara, belonged to the Russian president and was crewed by some members of Russia’s Federal Protection Service, which is responsible for Putin’s security.
However, the Italian Sea Group, which has been carrying out maintenance and repairs on the boat since last September, said according to the documentation in its possession and controls carried out by authorities the ship’s ownership could not be linked to the Russian leader.
As the EU cracked down on Putin allies by bringing in sanctions, authorities have faced the difficult task of trying to establish who is the “beneficial owner” of seized yachts or villas as many are purchased through front companies based in tax havens.
According to documents seen by the Financial Times, Scheherazade is nominally owned by Beilor Asset Limited, an entity based in the Marshall Islands.
Italy’s financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, has been enforcing EU sanctions against prominent Russian oligarchs allied to Putin.
A Guardia di Finanza official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the paper it was difficult to establish Beilor’s true beneficiary.
Putin has also been linked to another superyacht, Graceful, which left Germany before war started bound for the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said Putin had “absolutely nothing to do” with either the Graceful or Scheherazade.
Italy, a favourite playground for many of the oligarchs linked to the Kremlin, has frozen assets including superyachts and seaside properties.
Among those who have been hit by sanctions are billionaire Alexei Mordashov, Gennady Timchenko, a personal friend of Putin and founder of investment firm Volga Group, Petr Aven, a partner in the investment group Alfa, and financier Alisher Usmanov, a former part-owner of Arsenal Football Club.
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