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War in Ukraine: Russian oligarch’s €120m yacht seized in French port

Customs officers took possession of the vessel in La Ciotat near Marseille where it was undergoing repairs. It was said to be preparing to set sail urgently with the repairs incomplete

The Amore Vero yacht was in La Ciotat for maintenance work. (Photo for illustration) Pic: Fabian Irwin / Shutterstock

A yacht linked to a Russian oligarch has been seized by the French Douanes (customs) in a La Ciotat (Bouches-du-Rhône) shipyard.

The yacht belonged to a company linked to Igor Sechin, who is the CEO of Russian oil company Rosneft.

“French customs officers seized the Amore Vero yacht in La Ciotat, as they worked to enforce European Union sanctions against Russia,” France’s economy and finance ministry announced in a statement.

The repossession took place last night (March 2) after several hours of checks, unbeknownst to the shipyard operators.

Amore Vero had arrived in La Ciotat on January 3 and was due to stay there until April 1 for repairs. It is a luxury yacht measuring 86 metres in length, only a bit shorter than a football pitch, and worth €120million.

The yacht houses a swimming pool which can be converted into a helipad, and its interior was designed by renowned architect Alberto Pinto. Its annual maintenance costs come to €12million.

“At the time of the checks, the boat was preparing to set sail urgently, the [repair] work being still incomplete,” the government statement added. 

The customs controls showed that “this attempt to leave French waters was an infraction of Article 459 of the Code des douanes,” and so it became necessary to seize the vessel.

“This yacht was included in measures freezing the property of its owner under the [EU] regulation 2022/336 of February 28.” 

Amore Vero is the third boat intercepted by French authorities as part of its execution of sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

On Saturday (February 26), a commercial vessel belonging to Russian bank PSB was stopped in the Channel, and on Sunday, a Russian cargo ship called Victor Andryukhin was intercepted in the Marseille-Fos port.

Who is Igor Sechin? 

As well as being an oligarch, Igor Sechin, 61, is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, and sometimes considered to be his ‘de facto deputy’.

He has been involved with the Russian government since the 1990s and from May 2008 until May 2012, he served as deputy prime minister in Putin’s cabinet.

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