NEWS

A $120 million superyacht linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch has appeared in Antigua more than 2 months after turning its tracking off

May 30, 2022
  • A superyacht linked to Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev has appeared in Antigua, The Observer reported.
  • Alfa Nero's tracking system has been turned off since March 3, just before Guryev was sanctioned.
  • The UK described him as a "known close associate of Vladimir Putin."

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A $120 million superyacht linked to sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev Sr. has appeared in Antigua more than two months after it turned its location-tracking systems off, according to a report by The Observer.

Freelance journalist and photographer Gemma Handy snapped a photo of the Alfa Nero, the almost 270-foot vessel, anchored by the Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles in the week ending 22 May.

The vessel's last confirmed location was in Sint Maarten on March 3. Since then, the location transmitter has been turned off, The Observer reported.

The West imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia and many of its oligarchs after the country invaded Ukraine in late February in the hope of putting pressure on President Vladimir Putin to call off the war. The UK sanctioned Guryev on April 6, calling him a "known close associate of Vladimir Putin."

Guryev, whose wealth Bloomberg puts at around $10.1 billion, is the cofounder of fertilizer giant PhosAgro. Through his former position as the deputy chairman of its board he supported the Kremlin by working for a company "carrying on business in a sector of strategic significance to the Government of Russia, namely the Russian chemicals sector," the UK said. Guryev's son, Andrey Guryev Jr., is the current CEO of PhosAgro and has also been sanctioned by the UK.

Under the sanctions targeted at wealthy oligarchs, western nations have been seizing some of their assets, including money, properties, and superyachts. Tracking down their vessels is possible thanks to AIS (automatic identification system) transmitters, which automatically share information about the vessel's location, speed, and direction of travel with other ships alongside coastal authorities.

All ships with a gross tonnage of 300 or more are required to have AIS transmitters turned on for international sailings. Alfa Nero has a gross tonnage of more than 2,000.

"Ships fitted with AIS shall maintain AIS in operation at all times except where international agreements, rules, or standards provide for the protection of navigational information," according to the International Maritime Organization.

But some superyachts linked to sanctioned Russian oligarchs, including industrialist Oleg Deripaska, fertilizer magnate Andrey Melnichenko, and former Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov, are vanishing from global tracking systems in what appears to be an attempt to avoid sanctions.

The Observer reported that six yachts linked to Russian oligarchs, including Alfa Nero, had disappeared from tracking systems after they were sanctioned by the UK, citing AIS data from tracking company Vessels Value.

Guryev Sr. is purported to be the owner of Alfa Nero. The Observer reported that both he and his family have regularly sailed on the vessel in the past, but that he has denied being the owner.

"The only reason why you would turn off your AIS transponder is if you don't want to be found" or if you want to "sow confusion," John Lusk, COO at vessel-tracking site Spire, previously told Insider.

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