U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Yacht Company That Caters to Russian Elites
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government leveled sanctions against a yacht management company and its owners, describing them as part of a corrupt system that allows Russian elites and President Vladimir V. Putin to enrich themselves, the Treasury Department announced on Thursday.
Imperial Yachts, which is based in Monaco and controlled by the Moscow-born Evgeniy Kochman, caters to Russian oligarchs. The Treasury Department said Mr. Kochman and his company provide yacht-related services to “Russia’s elites, including those in President Putin’s inner circle.” Imperial Yachts, Treasury said, conducts business with at least one sanctioned person.
Treasury also identified four yachts as being linked to Mr. Putin: the Shellest, the Nega, the Graceful and the Olympia. The department said that Mr. Putin used the Nega for travel in Russia’s north, and the Shellest periodically travels to his Black Sea palace. The Treasury action did not name the 459-foot Scheherazade, an Imperial Yachts-associated ship that U.S. intelligence officials say was built for Mr. Putin’s use.
“Russia’s elites, up to and including President Putin, rely on complex support networks to hide, move and maintain their wealth and luxury assets,” said Brian Nelson, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department.
“We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves,” he said.
The department also announced sanctions against four Russian government officials and Yury Slyusar, the president of a Russian-state owned company that supplies aircraft to Russia’s military.
The State Department separately imposed sanctions on Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian minister of foreign affairs, and Alexei Mordashov, a Russian billionaire. The Commerce Department announced that it was adding 71 organizations to its entities list, in an attempt to block Russia’s military from importing key technology.
Also put under sanctions is Sergei Roldugin, a Russian cellist and a longtime friend of Mr. Putin’s, described by the Treasury Department as “a custodian of President Putin’s offshore wealth.” Mr. Roldugin was added to the European Union’s sanctions list in late February, days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has been described as “Putin’s wallet.”
Mr. Kochman and Imperial Yachts were the focus of a New York Times investigation showing that the company was at the heart of what is essentially an oligarch-industrial complex, a network of companies including German shipbuilders, French designers, Italian high-end carpenters and Spanish marinas that serve Russian oligarchs and employ thousands of skilled workers.
According to a U.S. intelligence assessment, a group of investors led by one of Russia’s richest men, Gennady Timchenko, who has been under sanctions since 2014, provided the money to Imperial Yachts to buy three ships: the Scheherazade, the Crescent and the Amadea. Their combined cost of as much as $1.6 billion could have bought six new frigates for the Russian navy.
A lawyer for Imperial Yachts, Simon Clark, denied that the company had any connection to Mr. Timchenko and said it “never conducted business or provided services to any parties subject to international sanctions.”
But Treasury officials disputed that contention in their announcement on Thursday.