France announces seizure of Russian oligarch’s €108m yacht

Just days after the announcement that the French finance ministry was drawing up a list of assets owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs for seizure comes the first action - a yacht has been impounded in a harbour on France's Mediterranean coast.

France announces seizure of Russian oligarch's €108m yacht
Illustration photo of La Ciotat, southern France. Photo by Boris HORVAT / AFP

French customs officials announced on Thursday that they had impounded the yacht Amore Vero, owned by sanctioned billionaire Igor Sechin.

The official announcement said: “During the night of March 2nd to 3rd, French customs officers seized the yacht Amore Vero at the shipyard in La Ciotat, after an inspection lasting several hours.

“Owned by a company in which Igor Sechin, head of the Rosneft company, has been identified as the main shareholder, this yacht fell within the scope of the freezing measures decided against its owner by the European Council.

“These measures, which apply immediately, require the detention of the vessel.”

READ ALSO Côte d’Azur mansions, yachts, private jets: What is France likely to seize from Russian oligarchs?

The 86m-long super-yacht, built in 2013, has an estimated value of €108m – and annual running costs of €10m. 

It was moored in the harbour of La Ciotat, between Marseille and Toulon on France’s Mediterranean coast. According to customs officers, it had arrived there in January and was undergoing repairs, but crew were “making arrangements to leave in a hurry, without having completed the planned work”.

The seizure is likely to be the first of many, as the French finance ministry has created a taskforce of customs officers and tax inspectors to identify and seize assets owned by Russian oligarchs who are under EU sanctions.

It comes after officials in the German port of Hamburg also seized a yacht belonging to a Russian billionaire on Thursday.

Finance minster Bruno Le Maire said: “We thank the French Customs for this seizure carried out as part of the implementation of the European Union sanctions against Russia.”

Member comments

  1. Why. What difference is this going to make? It’s becoming rather silly and smacks of jealousy.

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French electricity grid operator to return €1 billion to clients

France's electrical grid operator RTE said on Wednesday that it would hand at least one billion euros back to major power users in early 2023, as its revenues have surged during Europe's energy crisis.

French electricity grid operator to return €1 billion to clients

The exact amount will “match the one-off profit forecast for 2022 with the electricity market under stress,” the largely state-owned RTE said in a statement.

It added that the reimbursement could reach a record of more than €1.5 billion.

The move comes as public pressure is growing for an EU-wide tax on the “super-profits” generated by energy companies as prices have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Almost 380 large-scale electricity buyers in industry would share around €130 million from the pot, RTE finance and purchasing director Laurent Martel told AFP.

The companies include chemical plants, metalworking sites, steelmaking operations as well as paper and cardboard factories.

But most of the payout — around 90 percent — will go to operators of local low- and medium-voltage networks, which bridge the gap between RTE and end users of electricity, from industry to households.

RTE’s revenues have been especially strong this year thanks to fees paid to use its so-called “interconnectors” across national borders.

These depend in part on the difference in electricity prices between France and its neighbours, which soared this year due to the energy crunch from the war in Ukraine and a large chunk of the country’s nuclear reactor fleet being under maintenance.

RTE said that without its plan to bring forward the reimbursement, the payments would instead be spread over several years.