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

The Dilbar superyacht is seen docked in Hamburg on March 3. (Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)

The shipbuilder behind the world’s largest yacht by tonnage describes it as “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built,” with “entertainment and recreation spaces never before seen on” such a vessel, and an interior of “rare and exclusive luxury materials.”

It has two helipads and the largest yacht pool ever built, and it can accommodate 36 guests and 96 staff. And this week, it was impounded by German authorities for its ties to a Russian oligarch.

Germany’s federal police said Tuesday that “through extensive investigations despite offshore concealment,” it found that the yacht is owned by Gulbakhor Ismailova, the sister of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

After police confirmed with Brussels that the vessel’s owner was sanctioned, the superyacht — named Dilbar, after Usmanov’s mother, according to the U.S. Treasury Department — was impounded. It is being held in the Port of Hamburg in Germany.

Meanwhile, in Fiji, police are reportedly investigating a superyacht, suspected of being owned by Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov, which docked in the Pacific island nation this week.

The Dilbar, the yacht impounded in Germany, is registered in the Cayman Islands, according to the Treasury Department, and worth between $600 million and $735 million, with an estimated annual running cost of $60 million.

There are larger yachts by length. But at 15,917 tons, the Dilbar is the world’s largest yacht by internal volume, according to the ship’s maker, Lürssen, which touts its “classic profile with a light ivory hull and bronze accents.”

Usmanov is “known to be close to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as well as Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia and former President and Prime Minister of Russia,” the Treasury Department said, alleging that his ties to the Kremlin “enrich him and enable his luxurious lifestyle.”

In the early days of the invasion, President Biden warned Russian oligarchs: “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets.”

U.S. hunt for Russian oligarchs’ huge fortunes faces barriers offshore

The United States said on March 3 that it had sanctioned Usmanov, alleging he was among the “key elites” allowing Putin to wage his war on Ukraine. Experts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe determined in a fact-finding report published Wednesday that Russia broke international humanitarian law by deliberately targeting civilians during its invasion of Ukraine. The United States and other nations have accused Russia of committing war crimes there, and Biden on Tuesday said Putin was committing “genocide” in Ukraine.

Usmanov, 68, is the 86th-richest person in the world, with an estimated fortune of $19.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has “vast holdings across multiple sectors” of Russia’s economy and internationally, the Treasury Department said, including a 49 percent stake in USM, a holding company that controls Russia’s largest iron ore producer, according to Bloomberg.

A representative for Usmanov was not immediately available, and USM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the Fiji case, an official at the National Police Command and Control Center told Reuters that the captain of the vessel, which arrived Tuesday, was being questioned about how it came to Fiji without customs clearance.

Kerimov has been sanctioned by the United States, Britain and the European Union, but questions about the ownership of the luxury vessel remain. Police have seized the superyacht, called the Amadea, a 348-foot vessel worth $325 million, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The U.S. Embassy in Suva told the Fiji Times it is “cooperating with Fijian authorities on the matter” and is “committed to finding and seizing the assets of the oligarchs who have supported the Russian Federation’s brutal, unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine.”

Adela Suliman in London contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees Friday to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine, following staged referendums that were widely denounced as illegal. Follow our live updates here.

The response: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, in response to the annexations, targeting government officials and family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said Friday that Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO, in an apparent answer to the annexations.

In Russia: Putin declared a military mobilization on Sept. 21 to call up as many as 300,000 reservists in a dramatic bid to reverse setbacks in his war on Ukraine. The announcement led to an exodus of more than 180,000 people, mostly men who were subject to service, and renewed protests and other acts of defiance against the war.

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