As part of its sanctions against Russia, the United Kingdom has confiscated its first superyacht in British seas.
An unknown Russian businessman owns the £38 million yacht Phi.
The individual was not currently sanctioned, but had “deep ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United Kingdom imposed a slew of sanctions on individuals and corporations.
The 58.5m (192ft) Phi was originally discovered as possibly Russian-owned on March 13, but the government claims its ownership is “deliberately carefully disguised.”
It went on to say that the ship’s owner is located in the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis, but that it was flying Maltese flags to conceal its origins.
The Department for Transport (DfT) refused to comment on why the yacht’s owner was not identified.
Mr. Shapps, the Transport Secretary, described the measure as “a clear and stern reminder to Putin and his henchmen.”
“For the time being, the ship won’t be going anywhere,” he stated. “Those who have benefited from [Mr Putin’s] administration will not gain from cruising around London and the United Kingdom in ships like these.”
Royal Huisman characterizes Phi, which is named after the mathematical concept commonly known as the Golden Ratio, as “magnificently sensual” on its website.
The brilliant blue boat has a “unlimited wine store,” as well as a freshwater swimming pool and a penthouse apartment on the upper deck, according to the builders.
Last year, the ship, which was built in the Netherlands, set sail for the first time.
On Tuesday, UK authorities boarded the Phi in Canary Wharf, east London. The ship was in town for a superyacht awards ceremony and was scheduled to leave at 12:00 p.m.
Under the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, the boat was seized. According to Benjamin Maltby, partner at international law firm Keystone Law, the laws indicate that the secretary of state “may provide a’movement instruction’ to any’ship owned, controlled, chartered, or managed by people linked with Russia.’
Yachts are considered ships, and holding one might be part of a movement direction, he added.
He did say, however, that the decision to detain a ship might be contested under international human rights law, which guarantees individuals the right to “peaceful enjoyment” of their property.
If the challenge is successful, the owner may seek compensation starting at the cost of chartering a similar boat for a week, which would be roughly £250,000, according to Mr Maltby.
“It might be a very expensive error if the secretary of state gets this wrong,” he warned.