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4 Mar, 2022 10:43

Sanctions on tycoon’s empire dropped except for yacht and jet

A special license has authorized transactions involving Alisher Usmanov’s assets, except for his yacht and jet
Sanctions on tycoon’s empire dropped except for yacht and jet

The US Treasury has withdrawn businessman Alisher Usmanov’s companies from sanctions lists, on the same day it imposed them, leaving only his superyacht and private aircraft blocked.

Announcing on March 3 that Usmanov had been put on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list, the Treasury described Usmanov as an “affiliate” of Russian president Vladimir Putin and “one of Russia’s wealthiest billionaires with vast holdings across multiple sectors of the Russian Federation economy as well as internationally.

Through holding company USM, of which Usmanov owns approximately 49 percent, and other vehicles, Usmanov holds significant interests in the metals and mining, telecommunications, and information technology sectors,” the announcement explains.

But the Treasury retains a keen interest in Usmanov’s superyacht ‘Dilbar’ and in his business jet ‘Bourkhan.’ It provides a detailed description of both assets, warning that “any transactions related to the yacht or aircraft, including things such as maintenance, the hiring of operating personnel, or payment of docking or landing fees, conducted with US persons or in U.S. dollars, are prohibited.” The announcement did not cover any of Usmanov’s other assets.

Further clarification has been provided in the general license, also issued on March 3 and “authorizing transactions involving certain blocked entities” owned by Usmanov. The license says that all the transactions involving the billionaire’s entities “owned 50 percent or more, directly or indirectly” by Usmanov and not listed on an OFAC list, are authorized.

Practically, it means that even the companies belonging more than 50% to Usmanov are waived from the sanctions by the general license, while entities in which he might have a stake of less than 50% are automatically withdrawn from the restrictions.  An updated OFAC list features only ‘Dilbar’ and ‘Bourkhan’ out of Usmanov’s total assets.

According to the Treasury’s description, the Cayman Islands-flagged yacht “is believed to be [worth] between $600 and $735 million.”

Dilbar has two helipads and one of the world’s largest indoor pools ever installed on a yacht,” the Treasury said.

The Isle of Man registered jet ‘Bourkhan’, with tail number M-IABU, according to the ministry, is nicknamed after the owner’s father, is believed to have cost between $350 and $500 million and “is one of the largest privately owned planes in Russia.

Both ‘Dilbar’ and ‘Bourkhan’ have been identified “as blocked property in which Usmanov has an interest.”

An earlier Forbes report suggested that ‘Dilbar’ had been seized by Germany’s authorities following sanctioning of the businessman by the EU. However, according to Spiegel, the superyacht had not been officially confiscated.

Nevertheless, as the German outlet claimed, ‘Dilbar’ would unlikely be able to leave the Hamburg port where it had been docked for repairs.

Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western countries imposed new sanctions against Moscow, including freezing the assets of several oligarchs.

Putin explained the launch of the military attack on Ukraine by a need to urgently “demilitarize” Ukraine, as well as to protect Russia’s security interests. The majority of Western countries condemn the war and have imposed sanctions targeting various sectors of the Russian economy.

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