Who owns the yacht “Delbar”? The authorities have been dealing with this question for several weeks. Investigations led to the sister of the Russian oligarch. Now the ship has been captured.
After extensive investigations into the ownership of the yacht “Dilbar” in the port of Hamburg, the ship is now “legally insured”. This was announced by the Federal Criminal Police Office on Wednesday.
It is said that the mega yacht “Dilbar” at the Hamburg shipyard Blohm + Voss belongs to the sister of the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov. As reported by the newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, Gulbahor Ismailowa is the official owner of the 156-meter luxury yacht. This is now certain. Ismayilova has been on the EU sanctions list since April 8, as has her sister Sudat Nartseva.
As reported by t-online, access to the assets of the Russian oligarchs is not easy for the German authorities. Ownership must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Influential billionaires use corporate networks or middlemen to hide ownership and avoid penalties.
Usmanov is considered one of the most powerful oligarchs
The US Treasury’s oversight agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has included Usmanov in its sanctions list as the owner of “Dilbar”.
He works in the mining and metals industries, is said to have assets of $14 billion, and is considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Federal Ministry of Finance does not want to comment on the ownership structure around the “Dilbar”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and oligarch Alisher Usmanov (file photo): Both are considered close confidants, which is why Usmanov has been subject to international sanctions. (Source: Mikhail Metzel / imago photos)
Investigators of the Pakistan Police Office visited the “Dilbar” shipyard
As reported by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, investigators from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Tax Investigation Department in North Rhine-Westphalia found Ismaelwa the owner of “Delbar”. Accordingly, investigators from the “Ukrainian Investigative Group” made a visit to the shipyard in Lürssen in mid-March. They wanted to see the documents for “Dilbar”, which was built by the Lürssen company in Bremen in 2016.
During their visit, investigators were primarily interested in who is now the contractor for the ship’s maintenance and repair. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that the shipyard had handed over a 65-page maintenance contract that “provides detailed information on pricing and repair content”. Lürssen acquired the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg in November 2016.
The 156-meter megayacht “Dilbar” awaits maintenance at the Lürssen Shipyard (archive photo): The ship ranks sixth in the list of the longest motor yachts. (Source: Thomas Frey / imago photos)
Ownership is veiled by a global network of companies
Accordingly, the shipyard in Lürssen entered into a contract with a company called Navis Marine Ltd. in the Cayman Islands. This company, in turn, belongs to a holding company based in Cyprus, the shares of which are wholly owned by a Swiss company – acting as trustee of a building reported in London called “The Sisters Trust”. Gulbahor Ismailwa, sister of the oligarch Usmanov, is the economic benefactor there.
“Once the oligarchy cannot be identified as the economic beneficiary at least because of the nesting or guardianship bodies, expropriation will not be possible,” said lawyer and yachting expert Christoph Schlesmann online. It now appears that German investigators have examined this construction.
Usmanov’s sister is said to have more than twenty accounts
According to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has asked the Foreign Ministry to promote the inclusion of the Usmanov sisters as soon as possible in order to be able to legally confirm the freezing of Dilbar. Saodat Narziewa has also been involved in disclosure scandals such as the “Suisse Securities” and is said to be the beneficial owner of as many as 27 accounts in the main Swiss bank Credit Suisse with billions in assets.
Once an asset, in this case, a “Dilbar” yacht, is directly attributed to a sanctioned person, it is considered frozen when the sanctions decree comes into force. The BMF website states that “the regulation of sanctions represents the law that is directly applicable.”
Aerial view of the yacht “Dilbar” on the southern French coast of the Mediterranean: the 156-meter yacht was delivered in 2016 by the German shipyard Lürssen Yachts. (Source: Peter Seiferth / Imago Pictures)
Ministries, BKA and Customs: Many German authorities are chasing the few
The Federal Republic makes great efforts to examine the property structures of the sanctioned oligarchs. In addition to the Ministries of Finance, Economy, Justice, Digital Affairs and the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the BKA, the BND, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Customs and the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control belong. A newly created working group.
According to the BMF, frozen financial assets are subject to a disposition embargo and may not be “used for the acquisition of funds, goods or services.” If it is something like a yacht, it may not be “sold, leased, or otherwise used as a source of income”. Private use is still permitted, as assets have been frozen but not confiscated.
The mega yacht “Dilbar” is likely to be in Hamburg for much longer
Confiscation can only take place under special conditions. According to the BMF, there should be “concrete indications that sanctions can be violated”. There is no need to be afraid of this at the moment with the mega yacht “Dilbar”: it is in the dry dock of the Hamburg shipyard Blohm + Voss.
The yacht “Dilbar” is currently fully wrapped: it is located on Dock 17 at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg. (Source: Hanno Bode / imago photos)
Freezing the yacht has serious consequences for the shipyard. BMF generally indicates that companies and people who do business with companies or sanctioned persons are obligated to comply with sanction regulations. This means that the shipyard, in this case Blohm + Voss or Lürssen, is jointly responsible for ensuring that sanctions are not circumvented.
A Bloom + Voss spokesperson said upon request that “of course” no work had been carried out on the yachts of sanctioned persons. In addition, they work closely with the authorities and follow all sanctions regulations.
So the scenario in which “Dilbar” leaves the shipyard for private purposes is completely unrealistic. In addition, even if the “Dilbar” is ready to sail, it is still subject to a sailing ban. This is to prevent the ship from being taken out of the scope of EU sanctions. “This could represent a breach of sanctions,” the BMF explains.
According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, there should be no “public arrest of the yacht”. The newspaper added that if the state were to confiscate Delbar, it would also have to pay for docking and maintenance in Hamburg. We’re talking about a five-digit sum a day. Now the shipyard has to bear the mooring and maintenance costs of the world’s sixth largest yacht itself.
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