The British High Commission to Barbados told Antiguan officials that two boats docked in the country’s Falmouth Harbour were beneficially owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, according to a letter seen by the FT.
The letter confirms the paper’s report that Abramovich appeared to own the vessels earlier this week, the paper said.
It’s possible the boats could now be seized, as Antigua has previously said it will enforce U.S., EU and U.K. sanctions against Russian individuals and entities.
The vessels, Halo and Garçon, are respectively worth about $38 million and $20 million, the FT said, citing valuation service VesselsValue.
Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, has been sanctioned by the U.K. and EU for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, though he has not been subject to U.S. sanctions, reportedly after a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Western nations have been ramping up sanctions against prominent Russian individuals and entities, including a growing cadre of mega-wealthy oligarchs. Sanctioned individuals should have bank accounts and assets frozen and will typically face other restrictions like travel bans. In practice, the way the world’s super wealthy structure their finances make enforcing such restrictions difficult. Often assets are hidden behind a complex array of corporate structures to obscure ownership or minimize taxes—hence Abramovich being referred to as the beneficial owner of the boats—and the majority of oligarchs’ wealth remains largely untouched by sanctions.
Abramovich has been involved in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and was pictured this week at discussions in Istanbul. The billionaire denies having strong connections with Putin and says he has not done anything to warrant sanctions from the U.K. or EU. He was reportedly a victim of a suspected poisoning at previous talks, something doubted by Western intelligence and denied by the Kremlin, which does have a history of allegedly poisoning its opponents.