(ANSA) – ROME, MAY 29 – Russian oligarchs run for cover to save at least their mega-yachts from Western sanctions.
The idea is simple and so far it seems to have worked: to make these floating palms ‘invisible’, the billionaires are deactivating the automatic identification system (AIS) on board, which allows to know the exact position of any vessel that uses it in any time.
According to an investigation by the British Sunday Observer, at least six super yachts linked to oligarchs hit by the London sanctions have become ‘invisible’ to ocean tracking systems. The newspaper reports that at least 13 of these mega yachts, worth a total of nearly 2 billion pounds (over 2.3 billion euros) have already been seized (or frozen) in ports around the world.
Experts report an increase in Russian-related yachts that are shutting down AIS. The system can be deactivated for legitimate reasons, but observers believe that in this case the intention is precisely to escape sanctions.
According to the Observer’s analysis of AIS data collected by maritime and aeronautical market intelligence firm VesselsValue, superyachts that have now been ‘invisible’ for more than a month include the 72-meter Clio linked to industrialist Oleg Deripaska, the Galactica Super. 70-meter Nova linked to oligarch Vagit Alekperov and 140-meter Ocean Victory linked to oligarch Viktor Rashnikov.
About 9,300 super yachts, worth around 60 billion euros, sail the seas of the world, and it is estimated that about 10% of this fleet is owned by Russians. (HANDLE).