September 22, 2023

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France seizes yachts from Russian billionaires

A French official said up to 510 people could be subject to an asset freeze in the country.

PARIS (Reuters) – French authorities seized four cargo ships and a luxury yacht linked to oligarchy, as the United States and other governments ramped up sanctions against Russia’s super-rich on Thursday over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

France’s finance minister said customs officials seized the yacht of Rosneft chief Igor Sechin, which is on US and EU sanctions lists, before it attempted to flee the French Riviera port.

Ship-tracking data showed that at least five other superyachts owned by Russian billionaires are docked or sailing in the Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation that has not signed an extradition agreement with the United States.

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Washington, the European Union and others have said they will target the assets of the oligarchs who have amassed wealth and political influence under Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a statement, Rosneft declined to comment on the French move, saying Sechin was unaware that any companies linked to him owned the yacht.

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On Thursday, the United States imposed full closure sanctions on eight officials and other officials, as well as some of their companies and family members, over the invasion that Putin described as a “special operation” in Ukraine.

“We want him (Putin) to feel bad, and we want the people around him to feel bad,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

A French official said up to 510 people could be subject to an asset freeze in the country.

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