Report: Germany Seizes First Russian-Owned Megayacht

Dilbar (file image)

Published Mar 2, 2022 6:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

German authorities have reportedly seized a megayacht belonging to the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, one of 26 associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin who were sanctioned by the European Union on Monday. 

According to Forbes, the $600 million megayacht Dilbar was seized at the yard of a prominent shipbuilder in Hamburg, where the vessel has been undergoing repairs. The report indicates that refit work on the yacht has been halted as a result of the asset seizure. 

Dilbar is the largest personal yacht in the world by volume, measuring in at nearly 16,000 GT. At 512 feet, she is also the sixth longest vessel of her type. She can accommodate up to 24 guests in her spacious 40,000 square foot interior. According to her builder, she also has an 25-meter-long, 180-cubic-meter pool, the largest ever installed on a yacht. 

Her owner, Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov, owns Russian metals conglomerate Metalloinvest, media company Kommersant and mobile-phone provider Megafon. Through Metalloinvest, he is one of the largest shareholders in Deep Sea Minerals Finance, the successor company of bankrupt deep sea mining firm Nautilus Minerals. 

Usmanov is also among the list of possible owners of the superyacht Lady Gulya (ex names Alaiya, Tis). The Gulya's true owner is not known for certain, and she may be linked to Usmanov's business partner Andrei Skoch, who is also named on Western sanctions lists. 

More seizures planned

Putin's personal yacht, Graceful, repositioned from Hamburg to the Russian port of Kaliningrad in early February, putting her safely beyond the reach of Western sanctions. Others are under way in international waters, and some have fled to more comfortable jurisdictions. However, other yachts connected to Putin's inner circle are within reach, and they are squarely in the sights of EU and U.S. regulators. 

On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden used his annual State of the Union address to highlight efforts to impose consequences for the invasion of Ukraine, including a new task force targeting the assets of oligarchs.

"The United States Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of the Russian oligarchs," President Biden said. "We are joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We’re coming for your ill-begotten gains."

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the launch of "Task Force KleptoCapture," a law enforcement task force to implement U.S. and allied sanctions on Russia - including "government-aligned elites."

"The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. "We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war. Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable."

The civil forfeiture process means that assets within U.S. jurisdiction can be seized and held, even if the defendants cannot be immediately detained. In addition to asset forfeitures like yacht and jet seizures, the task force will pursue financial sanctions violations of all stripes - including illegal use of cryptocurrency to evade the allied response. 

Though none of the sanctioned vessels are within U.S. waters, foreign maritime law enforcement agencies have cooperated with U.S. officials to seize overseas vessel assets in the past, including yachts