Netherlands seizes 14 megayachts linked to Russian, Belarusian sanctions
The Dutch customs authorities seized 14 superyachts at Dutch shipbuilders which are believed to be owned by Russian people, Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs wrote to parliament. The luxury ships cannot leave the country because of sanctions against Russia, Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and oligarchs. The yachts are barred from being formally delivered and handed over to the owners, the minister said.
The decision involves 12 yachts under construction, including megayachts of over 35 meters, and two yachts under maintenance. Customs investigated the market of yacht builders and traders. "We notice that the shipyards in the Netherlands are fully cooperating despite the major impact of the sanctions," Customs director-general Nanette van Chelven said to NOS. An investigation is still ongoing at 15 shipyards and five yacht dealers.
“The current picture is that a total of 12 yachts are under construction at five of the shipyards for so-called Russian UBOs (ultimate beneficial owners). These are not persons who are named on the European sanctions lists, but given the current measures, these vessels may not be supplied, transferred or exported at this time,” Hoekstra wrote. One of the yachts is near completion. Their ownership structures are also under investigation.
“Additionally, there are two yachts for maintenance at Dutch yards that have been placed under stricter customs supervision,” he wrote. “The connection between one of these yachts with a person named on the European sanction lists is being investigated. The second yacht probably does not belong to a Russian or Belarusian owner, but it is prohibited to provide services to unlicensed yachts.”
Hoekstra confirmed that 516 million euros in Russian assets had been frozen, and 155 million euros in transactions have been blocked in the Netherlands.
After criticism from the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, the government is stepping up the implementation and enforcement of sanctions against Russia. On Monday, former minister Stef Blok was appointed as the sanction compliance coordinator. He will supervise the freezing of Russian assets and seizure of Russian real estate and boats in the Netherlands.