Sanctioning a war on luxury assets
Sanctions that have been imposed on a number of close Putin allies over his regime’s continued application of pressure on the Crimea region of eastern Ukraine could conceivably be extended to those individuals who have left Russia and settled in the West. Among the potential targets are prominent superyacht owners and industry stakeholders.
America has, thus far, taken the lead in imposing economic sanctions, with the EU limiting its punitive measures to those who are directly involved in supporting a breakaway Crimea.
But when asked about casting its net wider, to include expatriates and Western domiciles, British Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “We certainly haven’t ruled anyone out from this approach… So that’s the approach we should take and people who get involved in that should know that they are liable, possibly, to be subject to an EU travel ban or asset freeze.”
And writing in the New York Times, Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexey Navalny endorsed such an extension. ‘Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Kremlin’s cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West’, he said, pointing to prominent owners Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov. ‘This means freezing the oligarchs’ financial assets and seizing their property.’
Whether there is the legal basis to do this in the context of the current situation is questionable. But if things escalate then it would stand to reason that yachts would become primary targets for seizure. So does it have the potential to affect the superyacht market? Yes and no, according to SuperYachtsMonaco’s MD, Jim Evans.
“We are not concerned because our Russian client base is made up of individuals who are not political in their activities”, Evans told SuperyachtNews.com. “Sanctions are being directed at the closest associates and members of the current government but those individuals do not make up our client base.”
Evans was however, more concerned about the potential impact on this summer’s charter market, assuming the political stand-off is not resolved. “We feel it could impact our charter business but so far we cannot claim to have enough data to verify this”, he said.
Of course, for there to be a residual impact on charter uptake there would need to be an expressed targeting of Russian UHNWIs on the part of European jurisdictions. And we shall have to wait and see as to whether that materialises.