WSJ: Taxpayers in Antigua and Barbuda are paying $28,000 a week to maintain a seized $120 million yacht believed to be owned by a U.S.-sanctioned Russian businessman with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The money goes toward paying the salary of the ship’s captain and $2,000 in diesel every day took keep air conditioning running on the yacht, the Journal said. Without air conditioning, the yacht could be overtaken by mold.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, dozens of governments around the world launched sanctions against Russian oligarchs hoping to put pressure on Putin to end the war.
The Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force, a multi-government group that works together on the sanctions, is reported to have frozen about $58 billion in Russian oligarchs’ assets by March 2023.
As the war continues, governments hope to sell the seized assets and use the money to rebuild Ukraine. So far, the U.S. has sent $5.4 million from the seized assets to Ukraine, the Journal reported.
For a government to take ownership and sell a frozen asset could take months or even years in legal battles. In the meantime, the owners of these assets, who have been sanctioned, are generally not allowed to use the financial system to transfer funds for upkeep.
The yacht left in limbo in Antigua and Barbuda is named Alfo Nero and is believed to be owned by phosphates magnate Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt almost bought the yacht for $67 million, but in a last-minute legal move, a company linked to Guryev blocked the sale, the Journal reported.
The U.S. Department of Justice has seized two yachts connected to sanctioned Russians. One of them is a $300 million yacht that U.S. taxpayers paid to have sailed from Fiji to San Diego, the Journal reported.
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