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A Russian Oligarch’s $500 Million Megayacht Has Avoided Seizure for Months. It Was Just Spotted in the Maldives.

The vessel stopped transmitting its location en route to Cape Town. Now it's in the Indian Ocean.

The Nord superyacht in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. The Nord, a $500 million megayacht that's connected to sanctioned Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov, has mysteriously ended up in Hong Kong after a more than week-long voyage from the port of Vladivostok where it was anchored since March. Photographer: Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Image Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nord might just be the most elusive superyacht on the high seas.

The $500 million Lürssen vessel, which is believed to be owned by Russian billionaire Alexey Mordashov, left Hong Kong in late October and was due to dock in Cape Town, South Africa on November 9, according to the vessel’s automatic identification systems (AIS). During the trip, however, it stopped transmitting its location and ostensibly disappeared. Until now, that is.

YouTube channel eSysman Superyachts has released footage of the superyacht traveling between two islands in the Maldives. The channel, which has more than 200,000 subscribers, received footage from one “amazing” subscriber that showed the 465-footer traveling from Maafushi to Malé. The team was able to verify that it was, in fact, Nord.

Mordashov—the largest shareholder in the steelmaker Severstal and the third-richest man in Russia—has been sanctioned by the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The oligarch maintains he has had no involvement in Russian politics and has been fighting the sanctions since May.

However, like other sanctioned Russians, his assets continue to be seized by Western governments. In fact, Mordashov lost his 215-foot superyachtLady M, back in March after it was confiscated by Italian police. In response, billionaires have started relocating their high-priced ships to safer waters.

South Africa initially seemed like a good option. President Cyril Ramaphosa previously said “South Africa has no legal obligation to abide by sanctions imposed by the US and EU.” However, the mayor of Cape Town opposed welcoming Nord, adding there may be protests from the port city’s large Ukrainian community.

The Maldives do not currently have extradition treaties with the US. However, the country is a member of the United Nations, which has vehemently denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Let’s see if Nord ends up dropping anchor.

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