July 18, 2024

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EU imposes sanctions on Russian oil chief linked to mega yacht confiscation | Russia

The European Union has imposed sanctions on a Russian oil chief who was separately claimed by US authorities as acting as the “straw owner” of the two yachts linked to the Russian President Vladimir Putin and its inner circle.

Edward Khdianatov served as Chairman and CEO of the state-controlled oil company Rosneft before founding his own energy company, the Independent Oil and Gas Company, which quickly grew into one of Russia’s largest oil producers with interests in extraction, refining and trading.

The European Union said The 61-year-old businessman was linked to Putin, who helped organize his first presidential campaign in 2000, and his close ally Igor Sechin, who succeeded Khdianatov at the head of Rosneft. It said he was blacklisted because of his “benefit from the government of the Russian Federation” and his “association with people on the list”. Sechin and Putin have been subject to European Union sanctions since the invasion of Ukraine.

Khdianatov maintained a low position compared to Russian oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich. However, since the invasion, he has drawn international attention after being named in a court case as the owner of two luxury ships – the $325m (£260m) Amadea and $700m Scheherazade. The European sanctions list did not mention Khdinatov’s alleged ownership of the luxury yachts.

Amadea has been the subject of a legal battle in Fiji, having been seized on April 19 at the behest of the US government, which claims it belongs to the sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Karimov.

A series of offshore companies and trusts reportedly link Khdinatov to Amadea and Scheherazade, which Putin is alleged to have used. Lawyers representing the British Virgin Islands company that owns Amadea told the court that the legal owner was Khdianatov.

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However, according to court files seen by the American media, the US government dismissed Khdinatov as a “The Straw Owner” Who do you say stands on behalf of the true owners of the two ships. The Supreme Court of Fiji is due to rule on the case on June 7.

Scheherazade, consisting of six floors and two helipads, was Captured by the Italian government in May. It was undergoing repairs in the Marina di Carrara port, and police pounced on it amid fears that it was about to set sail. The Italian Finance Ministry, in a statement announcing the seizure order, did not name the owner, saying only that he had links to “prominent elements of the Russian government.”

The organization set up by imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny released a report in March saying it had evidence that Scheherazade belonged to Putin.

The two yachts and their crew were reportedly managed by Monaco-based Imperial Yachts. The company was His name was mentioned in the US sanctions on Thursday evening With its owner, Yevgeny Kuchman.

The US Treasury said Coachman “provides yacht-related services to Russian elites, including President Putin’s inner circle.” It has identified four “Putin’s favourite” yachts – the Nigga, the Gracefull, the Olympia and the Shellist – on which the Russian leader has “made numerous trips”, including as recently as last year. The statement did not mention Scheherazade’s name.

Khdinatov’s oil business has acquired significant stakes in companies operating in the energy sector, along with its extraction licenses, from state-owned Rosneft, according to an EU sanctions listing. It added that in the past few years, Rosneft had paid Khudnatov $9.6 billion for a company that owns an oil field in Taimyr.

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Khdinatov could not be reached for comment.