A luxury yacht owned by a Russian oligarch that was supposedly seized under EU sanctions mysteriously disappeared from a port on the Italian island of Sardinia this summer.
The 22-metre Aldabra is owned by Dmitry Mazepin, the billionaire owner of a mineral fertiliser company and father of the former Formula One driver, Nikita Mazepin.
The vessel, said to be worth between €700,000 and €1m, was docked at Olbia port and subsequently seized in March when Mazepin was named on the sanctions list in the weeks following the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
There it remained until June, when the yacht disappeared hours before it was officially confirmed as belonging to Mazepin.
“Mazepin knew he was on the list but managed to make the most of the period during which we were working to establish that the boat belonged to him, as we had to investigate the chain of ownership,” said a source at Sardinia’s financial police squad. “We were in the process of confirming [the ownership] when it was taken away.”
Police said Mazepin hired a foreign company, which in turn hired a Sardinian captain to move the yacht away from Italy.
An investigation led by Carlo Lazzari, group commander at Olbia’s finance police, found that the yacht made a stopover at the small port of Biserta in Tunisia, but its current whereabouts are unknown.
Police said that Mazepin, the company involved in organising the sail and the captain, who claimed he didn’t know the ship belonged to the oligarch, each face fines of up to €500,000 for illegally removing the vessel from Italy.
It is the first case in Italy of a Russian with assets frozen in the country who has managed to dodge the EU sanctions.
“This yacht had never even left Sardinia before,” said the police source. “So you can see an attitude that was evidently aimed at subtracting it from the rules.”
A villa in Sardinia owned by Mazepin is also among the Russian-owned assets frozen across the island, a favourite destination for oligarchs before the war in Ukraine. Mazepin bought the villa, called Rocky Ram, from Carlo De Benedetti, the Italian businessman and former owner of La Repubblica newspaper.
A €600,000 (£508,000) luxury car built to withstand bullets and explosives belonging to Alisher Usmanov, a former shareholder in Arsenal football club, is also among the assets seized in Sardinia.