Navalny organisation had urged Italian authorities to seize Scheherazade over alleged Putin links.
The Italian treasury has seized a $700 million super yacht, with alleged links to Russian president Vladimir Putin, amid media reports that the luxury vessel had been about to leave the Tuscan port of Marina di Cararra where it has been undergoing maintenance work in recent months.
The Scheherazade megayacht was impounded on Friday night pending a decision by the European Union in relation to its forthcoming package of sanctions against Russia, the government said in a statement.
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An investigation by Italy’s finance police has revealed evidence of “significant economic and business links of the beneficial owner of the Scheherazade with prominent elements of the Russian government” and other individuals subject to EU sanctions, the statement said.
Italy’s Financial Security Committee (FSC) has proposed that the owner of the boat – who was not identified in the statement – be included in the new EU sanctions which concern “restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
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The move follows weeks of rumours, speculation and denials over who actually owns the yacht which has been moored on the west coast of Italy since September and has long been the subject of investigation by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza.
In March the Anti-Corruption Foundation of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published a video claiming that the Scheherazade can be linked to Putin through crew members that work on board the 140-m luxury vessel.
About a dozen people on the list, the group claimed, work for the Federal Protection Service (FSO), the state agency tasked with protecting and managing the lives of high-ranking Russian state officials, including Putin.
The six-storey yacht has two heli-pads, a gym, a beauty salon, an elevator and a swimming pool with a retractable cover that converts to a dance floor, according to the New York Times, which raised questions about the ownership of the Scheherzade in early March.
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The Scheherazade is flagged in the Cayman Islands and its owner, an anonymous company called Bielor Assets Ltd, is registered in the Marshall Islands, Reuters reports.
In March and April Italy seized superyachts and property from Russian oligarchs linked to Putin as part of EU sanctions in response to Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine.