Following a Financial Times (FT) report earlier this week that two yachts moored here belong to Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, the agency is reporting now that the Antiguan Government has confirmed the situation.
In its most recent publication the Financial Times reports that officials here have said that the vessels appear to be owned by the sanctions-hit billionaire.
The boats are reportedly docked in Falmouth Harbour and were owned by a British Virgin Island company with ties to the Russian man. This later prompted a call to the UK government to help confirm whether Abramovich was their ultimate owner.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Paul “Chet” Greene reportedly wrote a letter to the British High Commissioner to Barbados requesting information on whether the owner of the BVI company, Wenham Overseas Ltd., is on Britain’s sanctions list, in light of “persistent allegations by the Financial Times that the vessels could be owned by Mr. Roman Abramovich”.
“The letter then confirmed that the British High Commission had provided Antiguan authorities with a letter ‘from the Financial Investigation Agency of the British Virgin Islands which states the beneficial owner of Wenham Overseas Ltd is Roman Abramovich,’” the Financial Times report says.
Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, has been placed under sanctions by the UK and the European Union (EU), although not by the USA, for his allegedly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The government earlier this month indicated that it would abide and enforce all US, EU and UK sanctions on Russian entities and individuals. The news report says, however, that officials here initially struggled to verify the ownership of the two boats.
If moves are made to seize the vessels, the government has reportedly indicated that it “will provide full assistance to the Government of the United Kingdom” if it receives a request under the two nations’ Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty based on Greene’s letter.
The yachts, called Halo and Garçon, are reportedly worth about $38mn and $20mn respectively.
However, with Antigua and Barbuda being a yachting destination many pundits say that it is not unusual for Russian-owned vessels to be here.