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UK seizes £38m Russian-owned superyacht Phi with ‘infinite wine cellar’ in London

UK seizes £38m Russian-owned superyacht Phi with ‘infinite wine cellar’ in London
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Wednesday, 30 March, 2022, 00:00

The UK has seized a £38m Russian-owned superyacht in British waters as part of its sanctions against the Kremlin over the war with Ukraine.

The 58m (192ft) Phi, which has its own swimming pool and an “infinite wine cellar”, according to its Dutch builders, was barred from leaving Canary Wharf, London’s business district, at midday on Tuesday.

Ownership of the luxury vessel is “deliberately well hidden” but it is believed to be owned by a Russian businessman, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, visited Canary Wharf this afternoon to formally seize the vessel, which is the first superyacht to be seized since the sanctions were announced last month.

The detention of the boat comes after an investigation between the Department for Transport, NCA and the Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau.

Mr Shapps said the seizure sent “a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies”.

“Detaining the Phi, proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from Russian connections,” he said.
The yacht was first thought to have a Russian owner on 13 March, according to The Telegraph.

It was reportedly due to leave its mooring earlier on Tuesday before detention measures were imposed.

The Phi‘s maiden voyage was from Ijmuiden in the Netherlands to London on 10 December – but since then it has not left its east London mooring, the Marine Tracker website reported.

The yacht, which is built from aluminium, boasts six state rooms and can accommodate up to 12 guests.

Andy Devine, from the NCA, said:“Today’s activity demonstrates the NCA’s ability to react at pace. We have surged officers to establish the Combatting Kleptocracy Cell, and the results of this are already bearing fruit.

“The NCA plays a vital role in targeting suspect assets, pursuing enablers of illicit wealth and supporting government partners in the delivery of the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”