Gotcha! £38m superyacht seized in London is believed to belong to a ‘small fry’ Russian businessman who is not even named on sanctions list – but is an oligarch being ‘shielded by a pretend owner’?
- Investigators think Phi is Russian businessman’s Sergei Georgievich Naumenko
- It boasts a freshwater swimming pool and an ‘infinite’ wine cellar within its 192ft
- The £38m vessel is the first yacht to be detained in UK waters due to sanctions
A Russian-owned superyacht worth £38million was detained yesterday by the UK’s anti-kleptocracy unit.
The 192ft vessel, which boasts a freshwater swimming pool and an ‘infinite’ wine cellar, was boarded by officers from the National Crime Agency hours before it was due to leave Canary Wharf, in east London.
UK investigators believe the boat, called Phi, belongs to a Russian businessman named Sergei Georgievich Naumenko.
The NCA said Phi, which was in London for an awards ceremony, is registered to a company registered in the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis, and carried Maltese flags ‘to deliberately hide its origins’.
It is the first ever yacht to be detained in UK waters due to sanctions.
Seized: Officials board Phi, pictured, in Canary Wharf yesterday, which is owned by a Russian businessman
The 192ft vessel, pictured, which boasts a freshwater swimming pool and an ‘infinite’ wine cellar, was boarded by officers from the National Crime Agency hours before it was due to leave Canary Wharf, in east London
Delivered: December 2021
Weight: 499 tonnes
Top speed: 25mph
Range: 4,600 miles
- 16-tonne capacity
- fresh-water pool
- 300-bottle ‘infinite wine cellar’,
- external lighting powered by lasers and a mile of optical fibre cables
- Two speedboat tenders and a Smart car carried on separate 118ft ‘shadow’ vessel, Phi Phantom
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move ‘turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies’.
She features a freshwater swimming pool and a 300-bottle ‘infinite’ wine cellar, so-called because the reflection between two mirrors gives the effect of looking down an endless corridor of wine bottles.
The Greek letter Phi is used to indicate a mathematical theory called the ‘golden ratio’, which is said to appear in nature and, some believe, represents beauty.
But mystery remained over the precise reason Phi had been detained because Mr Naumenko does not appear on sanctions lists.
Phi was first identified as being potentially Russian owned on March 13.
Investigators were left questioning how the wealth of the ‘small fry’ businessman, who is understood to work in property, matched the value of the custom-built superyacht.
But a source said the boat had been impounded over concerns a wealthy oligarch was actually being ‘shielded by a pretend owner’.
The boat’s captain Guy Booth, from Worthing, West Sussex, has previously said that the owner is an experienced yachtsman’ – and told friends on Facebook that Phi did not have a Russian owner.
A Government source said: ‘This yacht detention is the product of weeks of enquiries, spanning the world. It is the oligarch equivalent of the Russian matryoshka doll – where each layer conceals another, and then another.’
Yesterday officials in Sardinia seized a £500,000 bullet and explosive-proof Mercedes Maybach limousine, owned by Alisher Usmanov, the former Arsenal shareholder.
A superyacht owned by sanctioned Russian Alexei Mordashov has sailed 5,000 miles from the Seychelles and will soon reach Russia’s eastern port of Vladivostok, 80 miles from the border with North Korea.
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