The Fate Of The Super-Luxury Cruise Ship Belonging To The Russian Oligarchs That The US Has Confiscated

The Fate Of The Super-Luxury Cruise Ship Belonging To The Russian Oligarchs That The US Has Confiscated
The Super-Luxury Cruise Ship Belonging To The Russian Oligarchs That The US Has Confiscated

International Military - As part of US sanctions against Russia for its large-scale military aggression against Ukraine, White House officials are making efforts to seize the assets of the Kremlin oligarchs. To carry out the effort, the Justice Department's (DOJ) newly formed KleptoCapture unit has tracked down and confiscated everything from mansions to yachts and other sources of wealth.

One of the task forces of KleptoCapture, which was established in March 2022, is to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Most of their targets are Russian oligarchs and allies with close ties to President Vladimir Putin and to Russian officials in general.

In history, KleptoCapture had one of its most famous victories when they managed to seize the Tango ship belonging to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg worth USD 95 million dollars. In that incident, the confiscation was carried out by the Spanish Government at the request of the US.

Viktor Vekselberg has been sanctioned by the US since 2018, on charges of money laundering and US bank fraud.

The confiscated property must be protected

Once assets are confiscated, the Department of Justice (DOJ) job is to find someone to keep them in good condition so they don't lose their value, reports Bloomberg. In the case of cruise ships, this means working with insurance companies and finding people to do the necessary maintenance.

Finding qualified nurses can be difficult, as the existing crew members are paid by the sanctioned owners. So, the DOJ had to contact the cruise ship management vendor instead, the Jakarta Zone quoted from The Street as saying. It hasn't talked about the cost of the treatment yet.

What will happen to these expensive ships?

In Germany, the authorities there recently confiscated Alisher Usmanov's cruise ship Dilbar, the largest ship in the world. The US Treasury Department estimates the value of this ship to be between $600 and $750 million, according to The Street.

To date, more than a dozen cruise ships have been seized from European ports since the February 24 battle. The total value of all of them is estimated at USD 2.3 billion. The annual operating costs of such a Tango ship are about 10 percent of the ship's value, which is about USD 9.5 million.

But beyond the maintenance issue, there are "nos" that the US and Europe have to go through, quoted from The Street. There is a law that prevents the US and Europe from owning ships directly, because government prosecutors must prove that the assets were used as part of a crime. And this process often takes a long time, even years.

Which means, in fact these oligarchs didn't actually lose their assets, the regulations just forbade them to use them. However, if both the US and Europe manage to fully own these assets, they have the option to sell them, and the proceeds are usually used for law enforcement.

This is supported by a bill in Congress, referred to as the "Cruise Cruises Act for Ukraine". The bill allows the authorities to sell any property confiscated from Russians.

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