Italy seizes $156m in wealth from oligarchs

MILAN (AP) — European governments are acting against Russian oligarchs to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to back down from his war in Ukraine, seizing superyachts and other luxury properties from billionaires on lists of penalties.

Since Friday, Italy has seized 143 million euros ($156 million) worth of luxury yachts and villas in some of its most scenic destinations, including Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como.

“We have to be able to stop Putin’s attack, bringing him to the table, and he won’t go with niceties,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told reporters on Friday. Italian state television, announcing Italy’s plans to begin seizures of property belonging to oligarchs close to Putin.

Italian financial police quickly seized superyacht “Lena” belonging to Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin, in the port of San Remo; the 65-metre ‘Lady M’ owned by Alexei Mordashov in nearby Imperia, comprising six suites and estimated to be worth 65 million euros; as well as villas in Tuscany and Como, according to government officials.

The villa of Russian-Uzbek business magnate Alisher Usmanov has also been seized along the stunning Emerald Coast in northern Sardinia, long the playground of the world’s wealthiest.

German officials this week denied reports they seized Usmanov’s yacht in the port of Hamburg. According to the British government, he also owns Beechwood House in Highgate, worth an estimated £48million, and the 16th-century Sutton Place estate in Surrey. Germany’s economy ministry said it was “quickly and effectively implementing the sanctions against Russia”, but declined to say publicly what assets, if any, had been seized.

French authorities have seized a yacht linked to Igor Sechin, a Putin ally who runs Russian oil giant Rosneft, in the Mediterranean resort of La Ciotat where it arrived in January for repairs. French officials said on Thursday that the crew were preparing for an urgent departure when they arrived, although repairs were still underway.

The seized yacht ‘Lady M’ moored in the port of Imperia, Italy. PHOTO: AP
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