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Fleet of Russian billionaires’ megayachts linked to Bermuda

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Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Bermudian- registered megayacht Eclipse off Bermuda (File photograph)

Ten mega yachts registered in Bermuda are “widely known” to be associated with high-profile Russian oligarchs, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

The Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority said the ships were owned by overseas companies, but linked to super rich Russian nationals.

A spokesman said: “The BSMA can confirm that there are ten vessels that are registered with the Bermuda Ship Registry that are owned by eligible companies that are incorporated in other Overseas Territories and these vessels are widely known to be associated with high-profile Russian nationals.”

Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, earlier insisted there was no “individual” Russian ownership on the island’s shipping register.

The Government has said it would follow UK sanctions against named Russian oligarchs in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 162.5 metre Eclipse, owned by Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Premier League football club Chelsea FC, is one vessel that flies the Bermuda flag.

Mr Scott was asked by The Royal Gazette last week if there was any chance the Eclipse would be seized as part of the crackdown on Russian assets in the west.

He said: “No, because there is no Russian individual ownership on our shipping registry.”

Mr Scott added that there was at present no cut in revenue from the Bermuda Ship Register because of the sanctions.

He said: “There are no impacts to the shipping registry as it stands right now. There are no projected losses.

“I don’t believe that there are a lot of Russian ships registered here, no.”

Abramovich, who is one of Russia’s richest men, was sanctioned by the UK, US and EU in the wake of the invasion.

Roman Abramovich (File photograph)

The Eclipse is one the world’s largest private yachts and has docked in Hamilton on several occasions.

The vesselhas two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, several hot tubs and a disco.

It is also equipped with three launches and a mini-submarine that can submerge to 50 metres.

About 70 crew members are needed to operate the yacht.

Mr Abramovich’s Solaris mega yacht is also registered in Bermuda.

Sailing Yacht A, owned by Andrey Melnichenko, who is reported to dominate the coal industry in Russia, is owned by a Bermudian-based company, although it is registered in the Isle of Man.

The eight-deck, 143-metre yacht, said to have cost $425 million to build, was seized by Italian police in the port of Trieste earlier this month.

The UK government has warned that Russian vessels will be banned from British ports.

A BSMA spokesman said: “There are no specific provisions in our maritime legislation that covers or addresses sanctions.

“The principal legislation for sanctions in Bermuda is the International Sanctions Regulations 2013 and the BSMA is currently working and consulting with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Financial Sanctions Implementation Unit to thoroughly review and analyse the UK sanctions to determine the appropriate steps to be taken, and this process is ongoing.

“There are many interconnected facets, components and consequences that must be carefully investigated and considered along with the safety and welfare of the seafarers.”

Mr Scott revised down estimates of the impact of sanctions on the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority in the space of a few days.

He told MPs on March 4 that the cost of sanctions to the BCAA in lost fees over a 12-month period would be up to $25 million.

But he revised the figure to $4 million only six days later.

Mr Scott said after the change of tack: “When we explain something as being fluid – it’s like water, it moves and changes momentarily.”

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Published March 21, 2022 at 3:15 pm (Updated March 21, 2022 at 3:18 pm)

Fleet of Russian billionaires’ megayachts linked to Bermuda

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