Scheherazade arrested in Italy
After some initial speculation about the vessel’s ownership, 140m Scheherazade has been officially arrested…
Rumours surrounding the ownership of 140m Scheherazade first hit the headlines in March 2022 at the onset of the war in Ukraine and the subsequent imposition of sanctions on certain Russian individuals. At the time it was suggested that Putin may be the possible owner of Scheherazade, although this was disputed by all parties with ties to the vessel. While there has been no confirmation that Putin is, in fact, the owner of Scheherazade, the Italian police has confirmed that there is a ‘significant economic connection between the owner of the Scheherazade and senior elements of the Russian government’.
At the point of initial interest in Scheherazade from the perspective of the public and media, the vessel was undergoing refit and maintenance work in Marina di Carrara and, as such, it was not necessary to act on the superyacht’s arrest without sufficient proof, as the boat was going nowhere fast. However, local reports have suggested that the crew was seemingly making ready to remove the vessel from the facility and, therefore, it was deemed prudent to act on the information that has subsequently been gathered.
“After verification by the fiscal authorities it has come to light that there is a significant economic connection between the owner of the Scheherazade and senior elements of the Russian government,” read a statement from the Italian Financial Police. “On the basis of these elements, it has been recommended that the yacht be placed on the current European Union sanctions list and the Minister of Finance in Rome has agreed.”
Regardless of whether or not the vessel is actually owned by Putin, it seems clear that the public’s assertion, and indeed that of the Italian Financial Police, that it has links to senior elements of the Kremlin is accurate. Indeed, in an article published by the Metro, it was revealed that Scheherazade’s Russian crew left in March “in the middle of the night”, to be replaced by a British crew.
Furthermore, an investigation carried out by an organisation that supports Alexei Navalny, Putin’s opposition leader and outspoken critic of the Kremlin, suggests that members of the FSO, which are typically used to protect Putin, and FSB formed large parts of the crew (see above). Naturally, any such report will be far from objective, but the weight of evidence against Scheherazade seems to keep stacking up.
Aside from the suggestion the FSO agents were working onboard the vessel before changing out for a British crew, the report highlights that Scheherazade is the largest superyacht in the world that does not have a known ultimate beneficial owner.
When the Panama Papers, some 11.5 million leaked files from the Panamanian law firm Mossak Fonseca, leaked in 2016 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists discovered a trail of offshore deals and huge loans, worth around $2billion, that led to Putin.
The money trail led directly to Putin’s inner circle and to his close family, however, unsurprisingly Putin’s name was not found on any of the documentation. Regardless of the fact that Putin’s name never appeared on any documentation, some commentators have estimated that Putin’s net worth is in the region of $200billion, meaning that no superyacht project would be beyond his means. It stands to reason, therefore, that Putin’s approach to superyacht ownership would be no different.
As SuperyachtNews reported when Scheherazade first started making headlines, if the vessel turns out to not be owned by Putin, then whoever does own it has done a great job of making it look like it’s Putin’s.
Regardless of whether or not Putin is the owner of Scheherazade, the vessel has now been arrested in Italy and isn't going anywhere in a rush.
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