By Orville Williams
The two yachts owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich have finally left Falmouth Harbour in Antigua where they were moored for several months.
The vessels, the 67-metre explorer Garçon and 55-metre superyacht Halo, were forced to remain in Antigua since late March after their billionaire owner was hit with sanctions by the UK government over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin’s military forces have maintained an invasion of Ukraine since February this year.
According to eSysman SuperYachts, a popular maritime channel dedicated to monitoring the superyacht industry, both vessels have reflagged (changed the national registration) from Bermuda to the Cook Islands and departed Antigua late last Friday.
They were soon after observed to be travelling across the Atlantic towards Morocco.
The channel noted, too, that the vessels avoided stopping in Gibraltar – a popular spot for refuelling etc – as it is a British overseas territory, meaning they would be susceptible to being detained.
It is not yet clear whether the vessels have safely arrived in Morocco, or were forced to alter their destination.
Efforts to reach officials at the Foreign Affairs Ministry for comment on the yachts’ departure were unsuccessful, and there has been no word from any other government officials about the nature of their departure.
With assistance from the UK, the Antigua and Barbuda government was able to determine in late March/early April that the yachts were registered to Wenham Overseas Ltd – a company domiciled in the British Virgin Islands – and that the beneficial owner of that company was Abramovich.
However, no move could be made to seize the vessels, as Antigua and Barbuda does not have any sanctions laws, and Abramovich has not committed any crimes in the twin island state.
Since countries and territories around the world started hitting Putin-linked Russians with sanctions, a number of expensive yachts, airplanes and properties have been seized.