Guy Booth says owner of luxury vessel is retired businessman with no links to Kremlin
The £38m vessel has been unable to leave a marina in Canary Wharf, Londres est, since March – about a month after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.
The British government has sought to impose sanctions against individuals and entities that are believed to have links to the Kremlin.
The detention order says the owner of the 190ft-long yacht is Sergei Naumenko, who – according to Sky News – is not on any sanctions list, but is described as a “person connected to Russia”.
The yacht’s captain, Guy Booth, told Sky News that he believes the boat was seized as part of the government’s “headline-grabbing” PR stunt following the war in Ukraine.
He said his boss Mr Naumenko is considering taking legal action to free his boat that was detained when it sailed into London for an awards ceremony.
Au 29 Mars, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps posed in front of the superyacht – named Phi – as it was docked in the marina, and then later tweeted: "RUPTURE: Russian superyacht detained.
“I have worked closely with the National Crime Agency and the UK Border Force’s Maritime Investigation Bureau to intercept the £38m Phi.
“The government will continue to take robust action against anyone benefiting from connections to Putin’s regime.”
Mr Booth told Sky News that it was not true that Mr Naumenko was connected to Putin.
Il a dit: “I think it’s fair and just that they demanded to know exactly who the owner is, his source of wealth, where this boat came from.
“All of that information has been provided and none of it links the owner of the boat to any position in Russian politics, to Mr Putin or to any other political aspiration.”
Mr Naumenko’s legal representative told Sky News that he is a retired businessman who made his money in civil engineering and investment management.
At the time the yacht was detained, the National Crime Agency said: “The ownership of the yacht was deliberately well hidden. The company the ship is registered to is based in the islands of St Kitts and Nevis and it carried Maltese flags to hide its origins.”
According to documents, Phi is registered to Dalston Projects Limited, a company based in the Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Mr Naumenko is referred to as the ultimate beneficial owner.
The Department for Transport has said: “We stand firmly by our decision to detain assets, such as the Phi, which satisfy both the scope and purpose of sanctions and will always stand with Ukraine against this despicable and illegal war.
“The secretary of state will continue to act within his available powers to ratchet up the economic pressure on Russia and make life harder for Russian elites.”