The day after the United States warned Hong Kong about being a safe haven for sanctioned individuals, the island’s chief executive says there’s “no legal basis” to enforce sanctions from abroad. It comes in response to calls to arrest the superyacht Nord.
Alexei Mordashov, a steel magnate widely believed to own the yacht, is currently under sanctions from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Each took action following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Notably, shortly after the sanctions took place, Italy arrested Lady M, another yacht belonging to Mordashov. The superyacht Nord, however, has eluded any government measures thus far. She departed the Seychelles in early March, for instance, arrivingin Kaliningrad, Russia mid-month. The 465-foot (141.6-meter) megayacht left Kaliningrad in late September, arriving in Hong Kong on October 5.
A spokesperson for Mordashov has declined to comment about the yacht’s presence in Hong Kong. Our own inquiry to Lodestone Yachts, which reportedly is assisting Nord while there, has gone unanswered.
This week, the U.S. State Department indicated Hong Kong’s financial-hub status could be in jeopardy by allowing the superyacht Nord to remain there. “The possible use of Hong Kong as a safe haven by individuals evading sanctions from multiple jurisdictions further calls into question the transparency of the business environment,” a State Department spokesperson tells the AFP wire service. “Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial center depends on adherence to international laws and standards.”
However, Lee says that sanctions from other countries or blocs don’t apply. (On a related note, China has not condemned the Ukranian invasion.) “A particular country, because of that country’s own consideration, decides to take any measures against anything, that is that country’s decision,” he says. Furthermore, he adds, the island complies with United Nations resolutions on sanctions. “That is our system,” he explains, “that is our rule of law.” Lee goes on to additionally state, “We cannot do and we will not do anything that has no legal basis.”
Likened to “a warship wearing a tuxedo,” Nord was one the largest yacht deliveries of 2021.