A superyacht owned by a Russian businessman has been detained in London as the UK government continues to impose sanctions due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that on Tuesday, UK officials boarded the vessel named Phi which was in Canary Wharf in east London.
The superyacht, which was in London for an awards ceremony, is 58.5 metres long and features what is described as an “infinite wine cellar” and a freshwater swimming pool.
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“Today we’ve detained a £38 million superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies,” Mr Shapps said.
“Detaining the Phi proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from connections to Putin’s regime.”
The Department for Transport said it worked with the National Crime Agency and the Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau to identify and detain the vessel.
The government did not reveal the name of the superyacht’s owner, but described her ownership as “deliberately well hidden”.
Phi is registered to a company based in the Caribbean dual-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and carries a Maltese flag.
The Department for Transport added that it is “looking at a number of other vessels” and hopes its “strong stance sends an example to international partners”.
Following the detention of the vessel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson told reporters that the UK government “will continue to take robust action against anyone benefitting from Russian links”.
“For the first time ever in UK waters, we have detained a Russian superyacht – the £38 million, Phi,” he said.
“The Department for Transport has worked closely with the National Crime Agency and Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau to intercept the superyacht and will continue to take robust action against anyone benefitting from Russian links”
Phi – a vibrant bright blue superyacht named after a mathematical concept – is double the size of the other boats docked around it at Canary Wharf.
The vessel was built in the Netherlands and she made her maiden voyage last year.
Speaking after the vessel’s detention, Mr Shapps said Phi “won’t be going anywhere”.
“It was here for refit, won’t be going anywhere, and it’s just another indication that we will not stand by whilst Putin’s cronies are allowed to sail around the world in these kinds of yachts and people in Ukraine are suffering,” he said.
“When you see what he’s doing to Ukraine, when you see what he’s doing to people’s lives, it can’t be right to have a yacht like this here in London, able to just sail away and that is why we’ve impounded it, and denied it ability to go anywhere right now, and it’s another indication of how seriously we take these matters.”
🚨BREAKING: Russian superyacht detained.
I have worked closely with @NCA_UK & the @UKBorder’s Maritime investigation Bureau to intercept the £38m – Phi.
This Government will continue to take robust action against anyone benefiting from connections to Putin’s regime. pic.twitter.com/enp9M2tmBB
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 29, 2022
The government later clarified that the owner of the vessel is not currently subject to UK sanctions.
The move came as the prime minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson told his Cabinet that “a ceasefire alone would not be cause for UK sanctions to be removed in Russia”.
“He said the pressure on Putin must be increased both through further economic measures and providing military aid to ensure Russia changes course completely,” the spokesman told reporters.
Number 10 added that the UK government’s view on sanctioning outgoing Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has not changed in light of his involvement in peace talks over the Russian invasion,
It comes as the Russian businessman was reported to be in Turkey for discussions on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said claims that the Chelsea FC owner suffered suspected poisoning during attempts to aid peace talks in Ukraine are “very concerning”.
The UK government has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on a number of wealthy individuals as well as sanctioning certain Russian banks, limiting the ability of Russian companies to raise finance on the UK markets.
Ministers have also banned Russian carrier Aeroflot from landing in the UK.
But although it has announced it will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of this year, it has stopped short of imposing a ban on the purchase of Russian gas.