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France and Spain May Start Charging Russian Oligarchs for Keeping Their Confiscated Yachts

Oligarchs looking to protect their superyachts from sanctions may have to look elsewhere for protection.

Aerial shot of three superyachts in the water Getty Images

It’s a sad day to be a Russian oligarch with a love of the seas. Since the war with Ukraine began, the US and EU have gone after billionaires fleeing with their treasured superyachts to protect them from being confiscated—which is why you may have seen so many parked in the marina on your last trip to Dubai. However, protection may come at an additional cost for those confiscated in France and Spain

According to Reuters, the two countries announced this week that they will now charge Russian businessmen with frozen superyachts to pay for upkeep costs while the yachts are in detention. While most owners have been said to be paying for the maintenance, crew, docking and insurance fees—the new provision will authorize payments to the government while the yachts remain in custody.

France, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Cannes,
France and Spain are looking into charging superyachts for upkeep while being held under sanctions. Werner Dieterich

The move is consistent with other countries that have barred Russian oligarchs from hiding the yachts in their slips. Earlier this year, Spanish officials seized another superyacht that believed to be owned by Sergei Chemezov, the head of Rostec, a Russian industrial conglomerate. Monaco has already moved forward with freezing assets due to the ongoing war with Ukraine. Switzerland has imposed similar penalties. 

The ongoing sanctions have caused the oligarchs to hide the yachts in countries like the UAE or Hong Kong that still provide a safe haven.

But the sanctions aren’t hitting as hard as government officials hoped. James Jaffa, a lawyer with British firm Jaffa & Co. that specializes in superyachts and has a roster of Russian clients on his list, says that compared to maintenance costs and fees, the sanctions are just another bill that the oligarchs can afford to pay.

“Sanctions do not seem to have the crippling effect that was intended,” Jaffa told Reuters. But something that might hurt is seeing their prized yachts with another owner. The US and EU are discussing proposals to sell all seized assets and give the funds to Ukraine amidst the ongoing firefights. 

Sounds like it will be a while before these gentlemen are able to enjoy a day out on the water.

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