Yachts owned by Russian billionaires are on the move as the U.S. and its allies seek to hunt down the assets of Russia’s wealthiest in direct response to the. The wealthiest Russian money – including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s — has pushed to sea.
Data from MarineTraffic, a global intelligence group, shows yachts owned by oligarchs are on the move, including aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska’s $65 million Clio and oil executive Vagit Alekperov’s $80 million Galactica Super Nova.
“No self-respecting oligarchy exists without a super yacht. And so what we’re seeing now is a hightailing it on the high seas,” financier and anti-corruption activist Bill Browder told CBS News.
A super yacht is typically over 40 meters long. The Clio and Galactica are each over 70 meters long.
In response to Putin’s war against Ukraine, the Biden administration created a task force to go after Russian oligarchs’ “yachts, luxury apartments, money and their ability to send their kids to fancy college[s] in the West.”
Browder said the goal is to get the oligarchs to pressure Putin to stop the war.
“We’re not ready to engage in military warfare. And so there’s an expression: We should fight them in the banks if we can’t fight them with tanks,'” he said.
Some oligarchs have made statements taking issue with the Russian invasion.
Mikhail Fridman, who founded one of Russia’s largest private banks, said he does “not believe that war would be a solution.” Evgeny Lebedev — the son of an oligarch, and who owns a London newspaper — wrote an op-ed pleading with Putin to “save the world from annihilation.”
The financial pressure is really about undermining support for Putin, both “among rank-and-file Russians as well as the oligarchs who help control the economy,” said John Smith, former director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces all foreign sanctions.
Weeks before, the $100 million “Graceful” — believed to be owned by Putin himself— left a German port for safer Russian waters.
“He’s a former KGB agent, and he has worked his entire career to appear on the surface to be the common man — when below the surface, it’s apparent that he has significant wealth stored,” said Smith.
Former government officials and experts told CBS News thatis key but this is an area where both the U.S. and its allies are vulnerable. Further disrupting the energy supply could .