Gibraltar sells yacht belonging to Russian oligarch for $37.5 mln

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Gibraltar on Tuesday sold a superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky for $37.5 million following its seizure in March under Ukraine war sanctions, judicial authorities said.

Gibraltar’s Admiralty Marshal, a specialist British maritime court that handles the sale of ships, did not release the buyer's name.

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The 72-metre (236-foot) vessel, MV Axioma, was seized on March 22 following a complaint filed by the US bank JP Morgan, authorities in the tiny British enclave at the southern tip of Spain said at the time.

The move came shortly after Pumpyansky -- head of TMK, Russia’s biggest manufacturer of steel pipes -- was added to the list of tycoons targeted by EU and UK sanctions after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Gibraltar’s Supreme Court had in June ordered that the yacht be sold at auction, with the Malta-flagged Axioma attracting 63 bids.

The funds raised will be used to compensate the oligarch’s creditors.

In December 2021, JP Morgan granted a loan of €20.5 million ($21.7 million) to a company registered in the British Virgin Islands whose shareholders included a Cypriot firm owned by Pumpyansky.

But the bank saw Pumpyansky’s inclusion on Britain’s sanctions list as a breach of the loan contract since it led to the freezing of his assets.

So it asked the Gibraltar authorities to seize the yacht which was listed as one of the loan guarantees, and requested it be sold to repay the loan.

Any creditors will now have 60 days to make a claim against the proceeds of the sale, and the court will decide how the money is distributed.

It will also determine the fate of any leftover funds.

The auction did not include an estimated €150,000 worth of wine and other bottles which were aboard the yacht when it was seized.

Russians have long been major buyers of superyachts -- pleasure vessels classed as more than 30 meters long -- and they have become a major target for European authorities hunting down the assets of sanctioned figures.

Authorities in Spain, Italy and France have all impounded yachts linked to Russian oligarchs known for ties to Vladimir Putin as part of European efforts to pressure the Russian leader.

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