Little progress reported on imposing sanctions on Bermuda-registered mega-yachts
Scant progress has been made in imposing sanctions on the owners of super yachts controlled by Russians which are registered in Bermuda, it has emerged.
Lawrence Scott, Transport Minister, was unable to say what action Bermuda had taken since the UK imposed financial penalties on oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin after he ordered the brutal invasion of Ukraine.
In the immediate aftermath of the illegal war, Mr Scott denied there were any vessels owned by Russian individuals on the Bermuda registry.
The Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority (BSMA) then stated that ten mega yachts registered in Bermuda were “widely known” to be associated with high-profile Russian oligarchs.
Multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich, who has had his assets frozen by the UK, US and EU, registered his super yacht Eclipse in Bermuda in 2014.
With US president Joe Biden, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accusing Russia of committing genocide and war crimes in Ukraine, pressure to go after Mr Putin’s billionaire supporters has intensified.
Mr Scott denied he was not on top of his brief when he declared no Russian individuals were on the Bermuda register, stating that the sanctions situation was “fluid”.
He could not say what action, if any, had been taken in regards to sanctions, stating that Russian associated vessels amounted to around $60,000 of the Bermuda registry’s fees.
The Transport Minister told The Royal Gazette: “The sanctions is a very fluid situation, as more sanctions come on line there is more impact to us.
“According to my understanding of our latest briefing the sanctioned vessels only equate to roughly $60,000 out of our total registry.
“As new sanctions come out, we look at the impact. We are imposing the sanctions and we are adhering to them.
“When it comes to the sanctions we are in compliance with any and all sanctions.”
A spokesman for the shipping authority said last month: “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.”
The Government has said it would follow UK sanctions against named Russian oligarchs in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Abramovich,, who has had his ownership of Premier League club Chelsea frozen due to sanctions, still has his 162.5 metre Eclipse flying the Bermuda flag.
When asked if the Eclipse would be seized as part of the crackdown on Russian assets in the west, Mr Scott said in March: “No, because there is no Russian individual ownership on our shipping registry.”
He added: “There are no impacts to the shipping registry as it stands right now. There are no projected losses.
The Eclipse is one the world’s largest private yachts and has docked in Hamilton on several occasions.
The vessel has 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 has also been sanctioned, and was 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’s Merchant Navy Association has called for Bermuda to de-register Mr Abramovich’s yachts.
The Eclipse has been reported as being in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Scott also initially said sanctions would cost the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority $25 million over a a 12 month period, but within six days he changed the figure to $4 million.