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UK seizes Russian-owned superyacht in London

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The Phi is worth an estimated £38m - James Manning/PA
The Phi is worth an estimated £38m - James Manning/PA

Grant Shapps has seized the first Russian superyacht in British waters as part of sanctions against the Kremlin.

The 58m (192ft) Phi, worth an estimated £38m, was barred from leaving Canary Wharf at midday.

Its ownership is "deliberately well hidden" but is believed to be linked to an unnamed Russian businessman. The Transport Secretary said the detention sent "a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies".

Mr Shapps visited Canary Wharf on Tuesday to formally seize the vessel after an investigation between the Department for Transport, National Crime Agency and Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau.

The yacht was first identified as potentially Russian-owned on March 13. It was planning to leave its east London mooring earlier on Tuesday.

Its maiden voyage was from Ijmuiden in the Netherlands to London on Dec 10. It has remained in Canary Wharf since, according to the website MarineTraffic.

The yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests and boasts six staterooms. Built from aluminium, its Dutch shipbuilders said it has a swimming pool and infinity wine cellar.

Mr Shapps said: “Today we’ve detained a £38m superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps by the superyacht Phi owned by a Russian businessman in Canary Wharf, east London which has been detained as part of sanctions against Russia. The vessel is the first to be detained in the UK under sanctions imposed because of the war in Ukraine. Picture date: Tuesday March 29, 2022 - James Manning/ PA
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps by the superyacht Phi owned by a Russian businessman in Canary Wharf, east London which has been detained as part of sanctions against Russia. The vessel is the first to be detained in the UK under sanctions imposed because of the war in Ukraine. Picture date: Tuesday March 29, 2022 - James Manning/ PA

“Detaining the Phi, proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from Russian connections.”

The Phi is the third-biggest yacht built by shipbuilders Royal Huisman.

Its chief executive, Jan Timmerman, described the delivery as "a moment of great pride for our team".

He added: "It is also bittersweet, having to say farewell to Phi, as her creation has been part of our daily lives for several years. At the same time, we know that Phi and her shadow vessel will conquer the oceans."

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