Tourists in Antigua last week looked at the world’s oldest sailing yacht during the island’s classic yacht regatta, with local authorities stationed on two completely modern ships.
Antiguan officials were working to confirm whether the two yachts, which appear to be connected to the authorized oligarch, were the ship, Garson and Hello, Roman Abramovich, after the Financial Times reported.
After requesting assistance from UK diplomats, the Antiguan government received a definite answer on Thursday: British Virgin Islands authorities have confirmed that Abramovich owns.
The next day, however, the German law firm Inns sent a letter to Antigua customs officials declaring that “Roman Abramovich is not part of the ownership structure or that he is not the beneficiary of the two boats anchored at Falmouth Harbor in Antigua”.
Although Antigua has said it is still willing to seize the ships if the UK government requests them under its Mutual Legal Aid Agreement, conflicting details of yacht ownership highlight the Byzantine offshore structure, complicating the authorities’ efforts to enforce sanctions against Russia. Alleged workers of President Vladimir Putin.
The presence of Garson and Hello off the coast of Antigua also indicates how these sunny island gateways have benefited from the Hulking Superior of Russian oligarchs, especially after the epidemic halted tourism and hit their local economy hard.
The FT was able to locate six other yachts belonging to prominent merchants born in Russia or the former Soviet republic – one of which was under Oligarch’s ban – after the suspect Abramovich was stranded at the same port last weekend.
Antigua has become accustomed to the presence of these huge boats over the years, which provide some work for local maintenance crews and are also custom made for beach restaurants when ship crews are on vacation.
But locals can’t remember ever seeing the oligarchs themselves or their guests come ashore to enjoy the island.
“These are multi-million dollar yachts, including multi-million dollar chefs,” said a local restaurant owner. “They never leave their yacht world – that’s their point.”
If BVI records are to be believed, Chelsea football club billionaire owner Abramovich is now crossing the world as Putin’s envoy in peace talks with Ukraine, living in “The Great Gatsby Building” in Switzerland.
The building, whose existence could not be confirmed, was listed as the oligarch’s address in a letter from BVI’s Financial Investigation Agency to its British counterparts, visited by the FT, which confirmed that Abramovich owned two yachts owned by the company. In Antigua.
According to a person familiar with the boat ownership structure, the announcement, contrary to law firm ins, is based on the argument that BVI records were not kept with the change of owner.
At least on one occasion, Abramovich appears to have transferred assets to trusted allies a few weeks before being approved by the UK and the EU, British corporate filings show that one of his main investment vehicles was handed over to Israeli ally David Davidvich on 24 February. .
Tom Keating, director of the Center for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank, described the entanglement of nominees and front companies as “financial metavors” that obscure the ownership of alligators’ assets.
A lawyer representing wealthy people buying private jets and supercars said that oligarchs and billionaires do not directly own their planes or ships.
“They usually own a special-purpose car, the shares of that car are usually owned by a very rich person,” he said. “But if you have someone like me involved, those shares will be owned by a trust.”
Last Friday, a small armada of Russian-linked superheroes was moored in the Marina of the Antigua Yacht Club, just across the historic harbor that once housed Admiral Nelson’s fleet.
According to VesselsValue, the ships included the Black-Hold Alpha Nero, which is more than 80-meters long and costs $ 85mn- $ 95mn. The maritime data service identified the boat as belonging to Andrei Guriev, chief executive of the Russian fertilizer group FosAgro, who last month added to the EU sanctions list traders near the Kremlin.
Three people with knowledge of the superiat art also said that the superiat belongs to Gureev. The owner of the boat is listed as a BVI company named Flying Dutchman Overseas Limited in the Marine Database Equations, a search of BVI records reveals little clue to the final owner of the entity.
In 2015, a spokesman for Guriev told the New Yorker that Oligarch did not own the boat, but “regularly charts Alpha Nero.” Guriev declined to comment on the FT.
Alpha Nero has since left the coast of Antigua, with Vesselsvalu tracking it to nearby Anguilla on Monday.
Ghost ships and skeleton crew
Collectively worth less than $ 60mn, Garçon and Halo are a rounding error in the bn 1bn five-yacht fleet that FT identified last week as linked to Abramovich.
But a person who has boarded the yachts of several authorized oligarchs said that both ships in Antigua served as support ships for the much larger Eclipse superyacht.
“I know those who operate Abramovich’s boats and they’re all upside down, there’s only one skeleton crew left, enough to move them around,” he said. “Even the boys who were not approved have their boats effectively frozen because they are also struggling to pay the crew – the news banks are refusing any payments from Russia.”
The crew members of a Russian-owned yacht in Antigua told the FT that they had been stranded on the island for weeks and did not know when they would leave.
“Our man still has access to the money, but money has been cut for those other boats,” said a crew member. “No one could or will send money. The whole team was not paid and now there are some people operating these huge boats trying to keep things going. ”
This goes far beyond the years when some oligarchs were approved, when Antiguan locals say superheat crews often evacuate entire supermarkets to meet the lords of huge ships, with “stock out” signs indicating that a new yacht has been docked.
The sight of automatic weapons being carried by security guards and even firing on local boats was even more terrifying. Now, locals are talking about unnecessary fuel bills from some boats that stretch for a few thousand pounds instead.
“Look, the world is crazy now, people are dying when we talk,” said a crew member of a Russian yacht who had gathered last Friday to watch the sunset from the jetty. “It simply came to our notice then. But now everything has changed. ”
Additional reporting from Nastassia Astrasheuskaya