A luxury yacht owned by a Russian oligarch that was allegedly seized under EU sanctions mysteriously disappeared from a port on the Italian island of Sardinia this summer.
The 22-meter Aldabra is owned by Dmitry Mazepin, the billionaire owner of a mineral fertilizer company and father of former Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin.
The vessel, said to be worth between €700,000 (£605,000) and €1 million, was docked at the port of Olbia and seized in March when Mazepin was placed on the sanctions list in the weeks after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There it remained until June, when the yacht disappeared hours before it was officially confirmed that it belonged to Mazepin.
“Mazepin knew it was on the list, but he managed to take advantage of the period during which we were working to establish that the ship belonged to him, as we had to investigate the chain of ownership,” a Sardinian financial police source said. . “We were in the process of confirming [the ownership] when they took him.”
Police said Mazepin hired a foreign company, which in turn hired a Sardinian captain to steer the yacht away from Italy.
An investigation led by Carlo Lazzari, Olbia’s financial police group commander, found that the yacht made a stop at the small Tunisian port of Biserta, but its current whereabouts are unknown.
Police said Mazepin, the company involved in organizing the sailing and the captain, who claimed not to know the ship belonged to the oligarch, face fines of up to 500,000 euros for illegally removing the ship from Italy.
It is the first case in Italy of a Russian with frozen assets in the country who has managed to dodge EU sanctions.
“This yacht has never left Sardinia before,” the police source said. “Then you can see an attitude that was obviously aimed at subtracting him from the rules.”
A villa in Sardinia owned by Mazepin is also among the frozen Russian-owned assets on the island, a favorite destination for oligarchs before the war in Ukraine. Mazepin bought the villa, named Rocky Ram, from Carlo De Benedetti, an Italian businessman and former owner of the La Repubblica newspaper.
A 600,000-euro luxury car built to resist bullets and explosives, belonging to Alisher Usmanov, a former shareholder in Arsenal soccer club, is also among the assets seized in Sardinia.