World’s largest yacht, linked to Russian billionaire Usmanov, seized by Germany

A file photo dated September 10, 2018 shows mega yacht named “Dilbar” belonging to Uzbek-born Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov as it refuels by a tanker in Mugla, Turkey. Germany seizes Russian billionaire Usmanov’s yacht at Port of Hamburg.

Sabri Kesen | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – German authorities said they had seized the world’s largest superyacht following official confirmation that the vessel had links to Russian billionaire and business tycoon Alisher Usmanov.

A German official confirmed to CNBC on Thursday that the motor yacht was linked to Usmanov and therefore subject to asset seizure. Germany’s federal police informed European authorities in Brussels on Wednesday that a thorough investigation found the vessel was owned by Usmanov’s sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova.

The stunning superyacht was initially restricted from leaving its anchorage by German authorities on March 3, according to a senior Biden administration official with knowledge of the matter.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the yacht had not been physically seized at the time but rather was not allowed to move from its current location in the German port city of Hamburg. The person had added that more measures would be taken later.

The yacht, named Dilbar after Usmanov’s mother, extends over 500 feet and is equipped with two helipads and the largest indoor swimming pool ever installed on a private vessel. The Department of Treasury estimates that the current value of Usmanov’s yacht is approximately $ 735 million.

Usmanov and his superyacht entered the crosshairs of the US and its allies in March following coordinated global sanctions on Russian elites with Kremlin ties after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

A Treasury official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said any action taken by German authorities would not involve transferring the vessel to the United States under the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, sanctions.

The US sanctions listed Usmanov’s yacht as blocked property, which effectively means that any transactions related to the yacht – including maintenance, the hiring of crew and payment of docking fees – conducted with US persons or in US dollars are prohibited.

The yacht is the latest vessel to be seized since Russia invaded Ukraine. A $ 90 million mega-yacht owned by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg was seized in Spain on April 4 with help from US authorities. Vekselberg was born in Ukraine but founded the massive Russia-based conglomerate Renova Group.

On March 2, French authorities seized a massive yacht they say is linked to Igor Sechin, a Russian billionaire who is CEO of state oil company Rosneft. He previously served as Russia’s deputy prime minister within President Vladimir Putin’s government.

The Lady M, known to be the property of Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov, was previously seized in Italy.

– CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed reporting from New York.

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