A Russian oligarch told the captain of his yacht to sail from France to Turkey ASAP, per the WSJ.
Igor Sechin’s yacht was docked in France when he was sanctioned after Russia invaded Ukraine.
French authorities tied the yacht down so it couldn’t leave, a customs officer told The Journal.
Igor Sechin, a Russian billionaire and oligarch, told the captain of his now-seized superyacht to leave a French port and sail to Turkey as fast as possible after he was hit with sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The US and the European Union put Sechin, who is said to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on their sanctions lists shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. Sechin is also known as Russia’s “Darth Vader.”
The report on Sechin’s orders offers a glimpse into how the wealthiest Russians who were targeted by sanctions sought to move their yachts and private jets across the world after the invasion of Ukraine in order to protect their assets.
Eric Salles, a lead officer on the seizure operation, said in an interview with The Journal that French customs officers found out last week that the yacht was preparing to leave the French town of La Ciotat despite having repair work scheduled.
Customs officers also heard the yacht was owned by Sechin, CEO of Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, Salles added.
The customs officers went to the yacht and questioned the captain, Salles said in the interview.
The captain told officers that he had orders to leave the French port and “sail to Turkey as quickly as possible,” Salles told The Journal.
After hearing this information, French authorities tied the yacht to the quay with steel-rope slings so it couldn’t leave, Salles told The Journal. Officers proceeded to check documents, further question the captain and crew, and surveil the vessel 24/7, Salles added.
Sechin’s yacht was officially seized by the authorities on Wednesday night, according to a press release tweeted by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. The yacht’s captain — still on board the vessel with other crew members — wasn’t arrested, Salles told The Journal.
Sechin is among several high-profile Russian business executives who have been sanctioned by the EU, US, UK, and others because of their ties to Putin.
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