Superyacht owned by Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky detained after docking in Gibraltar

·2 min read
Axioma, the superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky docked in Gibraltar. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)
Axioma, the superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky docked in Gibraltar. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)

A super-yacht linked to a Russian oligarch currently under British and European Union sanctions has been detained by authorities in Gibraltar.

Western sanctions on Russian oligarchs over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have triggered an exodus of luxury yachts from Europe in recent weeks, with several heading towards the Maldives, which has no extradition treaty with the United States.

The $75m (£57m) Axioma belongs to billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky, the owner and chairman of steel pipe manufacturer OAO TMK, a supplier to Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom.

The Gibraltar government confirmed in a statement the Axioma had arrived in port after asking permission to enter and “was confirmed to be the subject of an arrest action by a leading international bank in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar”.

“The vessel is now subject to arrest by the Admiralty Marshal until further order,” it said, without specifying the legal claims from creditors against the vessel or the vessel's owner.

Research from financial market data company, Refinitiv shows the 72-metre vessel is owned by a British Virgin Islands holding company called Pyrene investments.

The Axioma is the latest in a series of yachts to be seized in Europe (REUTERS)
The Axioma is the latest in a series of yachts to be seized in Europe (REUTERS)

An article published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of the Panama Papers leaks names Mr Pumpyansky as a beneficiary of the holding.

Forbes and specialist publication Superyacht Fan also list him as the Axioma's owner.

Refinitiv shipping data showed the Axioma left the Caribbean island of Antigua on 27 February and spent the past three weeks crossing the Atlantic before reaching Gibraltar.

Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky is currently on the British and EU sanction list (Creative Commons)
Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky is currently on the British and EU sanction list (Creative Commons)

Earlier on Monday, a vessel linked to Roman Abramovich, the sanctioned owner of Chelsea football club, docked in the seaside city of Bodrum in southwest Turkey

It comes as a video on YouTube alleging that Mr Putin owns a $700 million (£528 million) super yacht, which is in an Italian port. The clip boasts just under three million views by Tuesday evening. The New York Times reported earlier this month that the vessel's captain denied Putin owned or had ever been on the yacht.

Multi-million-dollar mega yacht Scheherazade, docked in Italy. It is currently the source of speculation that it belongs to a Russian oligarch, or even perhaps President Vladimir Putin (AFP via Getty Images)
Multi-million-dollar mega yacht Scheherazade, docked in Italy. It is currently the source of speculation that it belongs to a Russian oligarch, or even perhaps President Vladimir Putin (AFP via Getty Images)

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has said he no longer owns a number of properties that have been hit by UK sanctions, according to reports.

Mr Usmanov's net worth is put at about £13.8bn. He was thought to own a £10m mansion in Surrey and a £48m house in Highgate, north London.

However, neither of those assets can be frozen because they are not his, a spokesman for the oligarch said, raising questions around how effective sanctions against Russian oligarchs have been.

“All of Mr Usmanov's properties were settled into the irrevocable trusts long before the sanctions came,” he commented.

“It had nothing to do with sanctions and was determined by estate planning.”

Properties in north London and Surrey once owned by the businessman were “long ago” placed into trusts prior to sanctions imposed by the UK government on 3 March, the Guardian reported, citing a spokesman for the oligarch.