UPDATE, MARCH 16, 2022: Following the arrest of Sailing Yacht A last week, the Isle of Man has chosen to de-listed her from its registry. Alex Allinson, the minister for enterprise, says the island was “going further than UK sanctions” by delisting any vessels implicated with the country. Read on for our original article.
The arrest of Sailing Yacht A took place on March 10 in Italy. It’s the latest in a few sanctions-related yacht arrests stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Italian officials arrived in Trieste, where the superyacht had been undergoing a refit for the past month. Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, its national financial police, boarded the 468’5” (142.81-meter) yacht in drydock. Ferdinando Giugliano, the Italian prime minister’s media advisor, announced the arrest of Sailing Yacht A with a video on Twitter (below).
Sailing Yacht A belongs to Andrey Melnichenko, who has for many years held assets in fertilizer and commodities. More than two decades ago, for instance, he founded EuroChem Group and SUEK. The European Union (EU) authorized sanctions against him on March 9. It states that he was one of multiple business leaders who met with Russian president Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine to discuss EU and U.S. sanctions. It also alleges he has “close connections to the Russian government” and “is therefore involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the government.” Notably, the following day, EuroChem Group and SUEK issued statements indicating that Melnichenko resigned from their boards and withdrew as their beneficiaries, effective March 9.
We contacted a spokesperson for Melnichenko, Alex Andreev. Andreev asserts, “He has no relation to the tragic event sin Ukraine. He has no political affiliations. There is no justification whatsoever for placing him on the EU sanctions list. We will be disputing these baseless and unjust sanctions, and believe that the rule of law and common sense will prevail.” Furthermore, Andreev confirmed that Melnichenko resigned from the above-mentioned companies’ boards and withdrew as their beneficiary. Specifically, he says, it was for them to remain “able to continue providing millions of people around the world with nutrients for agriculture and access to affordable energy.”
One of the biggest megayacht deliveries in 2017, Sailing Yacht A has styling by Philippe Starck and construction from Nobiskrug. Despite her towering masts, she is a sail-assisted vessel, not a traditional sailing yacht, and therefore relying on her engines more, especially for long distances.
The arrest of Sailing Yacht A comes one week after the Italian government froze yet another megayacht. Italian financial police arrested Lady M while she remained docked in Imperia. They identify the owner of the 213-foot (65-meter) motoryacht as Alexei Mordashov. The European Union placed him on its sanctions list on February 28. He’s the biggest stakeholder in Severastal, Russia’s largest steel company. At the end of February, he attended a meeting at the Kremlin at the behest of Putin, along with other oligarchs. Additionally, Italian authorities arrested the motoryacht Lena, allegedly belonging to Gennady Timchenko, whose business holdings are in oil and gas. That arrest took place in San Remo.