U.S. officials believe that they may have located a superyacht that belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reports.
The yacht is currently undergoing repairs at the Marina di Carrara port in Tuscany, Italy.
The name of the yacht is the Scheherazade. It is said to be 459 feet long and to be worth $700 million.
Is it Putin’s?
The short answer is that U.S. officials aren’t exactly sure.
The officials told the New York Times that they learned from a former crew member of the yacht that it was for Putin’s use. However, the yacht’s captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, not only claims that the yacht doesn’t belong to Putin but he further claims that Putin has never even been on the yacht.
U.S. officials told the New York Times that, during the coronavirus pandemic, Putin spent time in Sochi, located in the Black Sea, which is where the yacht made trips during both the summers of 2020 and 2021. This is one of the ways that U.S. officials have tried to link Putin to the yacht.
The problem that officials are having with establishing ownership, however, is that Putin doesn’t keep his wealth and assets in his name. Rather, he keeps it in the names of Russian oligarchs.
Accordingly, for the time being, the best the U.S. officials could say is that there is a possibility that the yacht does indeed belong to Putin.
Targeting Russian oligarchs
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West has announced sanctions that, in part, target Russian oligarchs and their assets.
We, for example, have already seen officials impound a yacht that belongs to Alexei Mordashov, which was located in Italy. And, we have seen them impound another yacht, that was located in France, that belongs to Igor Sechin.
If the Scheherazade does belong to Putin, this would be the biggest score yet. There are several obstacles that U.S. officials would have to deal with, however, before they would be able to impound the Scheherazade. Establishing ownership would only be step one of many.
Even then, the question is “what would all of this accomplish?” Chances are Putin would just deny that it is his yacht and proceed with trying to revive the Soviet Union.