The international hunt for Russian oligarch-owned superyachts and private jets has led to impressive captures, but numerous of the wanted luxury toys have discretely made their way to so-called “safe havens.” Dubai is notorious for being one of the preferred destinations in such cases, as a place where Russian-linked assets are not at the risk of being seized. But things could change very soon.
The UAE, and Dubai in particular, has always had an important connection with Russia, with an impressive number of both residents and tourists originating in the now-sanctioned state. This strong relationship resulted in the UAE abstaining from a UN security council resolution that condemned the Ukraine invasion back in February and its officials not implementing the sanctions imposed by the U.S., UK, or the EU.
Data provided by maritime tracking platforms are showing that more and more superyachts allegedly owned by Russian oligarchs are hiding in plain sight in Dubai – everyone knows they’re sanctioned, yet they’re safe from getting seized.
Madame Gu is one of the spectacular superyachts that were recently added to the U.S. sanctions list, together with its custom helicopter and a luxury private jet, all owned by Andrey Vladimirovich Skoch, a twice-designated Russian Federation Duma member who made his millions in the steel industry. The huge 325-foot (99 meters) pleasure craft was one of the first targeted yachts to disappear, meaning that it stopped transmitting its coordinates after having been last seen in Dubai.
The dazzling Motor Yacht A is also safe from harm, reportedly located in the northern emirate Ras al-Khaimah. Its billionaire owner, Andrey Melnichenko, already had one of his superyachts seized in Italy, so it’s no wonder that he decided to quickly move the other one to UAE.
Most recently, U.S. authorities have placed a bull’s eye on Roman Abramovich’s infamous $350 million private jet, considered one of the largest in the world. It seems that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has also been hiding in Dubai since March.
This new role as a sanctuary for superyachts and private jets only adds to Dubai’s negative image as an important link in money laundering networks. Not only campaigners but also politicians are asking for the UAE to be blacklisted, The Guardian reports. The state’s support for the sanctioned oligarchs is seen as “a threat to the financial system.” As the aggression against Ukraine continues, Dubai might stop being such a welcoming place for the oligarchs’ luxury toys.