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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another oligarch and his super yachts in trouble

Super yacht Queen K

A small item in today's paper caught my eye, because the theme seemed eerily familiar.

OLIGARCH'S US ASSETS SEIZED IN FBI SANCTIONS CRACKDOWN, it was headlined, going on to say that the FBI has reportedly frozen the US assets of Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch, in a continued crackdown on Vladimir Putin's allies.

The industrialist, worth an estimated US$3.3 billion, was placed on a list of individuals sanctioned by the US treasury in April -- April 2018, that is. Deripaska's US assets, which include a Central Park town house bought for $42.5 million in 2008 -- are now frozen.  And what was really interesting about that town house, is that it is the address of Dasha Abramovich, the ex-wife of Roman Abramovich, who reportedly was found lurking inside there, along with her children.

I have already written about Abramovich, who sold super-yacht Luna to a fellow oligarch, Akhmedov, who was also involved in a bizarre divorce case. And, guess what, according to the New York Post, Roman Abramovich is now dating Polina Deripaska, the estranged wife of Oleg.  And this very strange wife-swap could be part of a convoluted tax- and sanction-avoiding deal.

So, who is Oleg Deripaska?

Radio Free Europe sums up his story in a few succinct words:  he is a billionaire tycoon who throws lavish parties, has been barred from the United States, and did business with Paul Manaforte, Trump's one-time campaign chair.  He also -- though under the radar, as it were -- has very close ties with the Putin administration.  And much of this has been conducted on his yacht, Queen K, pictured above.

Queen K is a 72.60m (238.19ft) motor yacht, custom built in 2004 by the German company, Lurssen Yachts. She was designed by Espen Oeino with Lurssen Yachts developing the naval architecture, and the interior design was created by Donald Starkey.  Her current flag is that of the Cayman Islands.  Nine suites accommodate up to 18 guests, on cruises of up to 5000 nautical miles without refueling, while all the time 21 crew members look after the privileged passengers. And, just in case she runs into trouble, she has a support craft, named Sputnik.

Interestingly, too, the name of her owner is generally given as "unknown."  Super Yacht Fan. however, is convinced it is Oleg Deripaska, along with other intriguing details.  So, if the Department of Justice gets involved, as it did with the case of the super-yacht Equanimity, the Queen K is within its grasp -- according to Vessel Finder (which has many technical details of the craft), she is currently in the eastern Mediterranean, a bit south of Cyprus.  

Deripaska has another yacht, named Selenga, which was launched in 2016, after a number of unusual difficulties.

According to Yacht Harbour, her construction began in 2007, at a Ulan-Ude-based shipyard.  But then the GFC (Great Financial Crisis) intervened.  Deripaska lost a huge amount of money, and the yacht had to be put on hold while he recouped his fortunes.  In 2014 the outer build was finally complete, but then it was found that the local water was too shallow to carry the yacht to her intended marina in lake Baikal. 

So a custom-built dock had to be built, to carry her there, in rather undignified fashion.

But at least it meant it was easy to finish off her interior, designed by Igor Lobanov.

Selenga can accommodate 12 guests in one master, 2 VIP, 1 twin and 2 guest cabins.  Rather bizarrely, the owner's cabin is divided into two, one being a master bedroom, and the other a yoga room.  

Unlike Queen K, Selenga is not vulnerable to seizure, if the DoJ should take an interest an appropriating her. Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake (by volume) in the world, is located in Southern Siberia.

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