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Luxury yachtmaker whose clients include sanctioned Russian oligarchs is probing vessels' ownership

Business Insider US
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's yacht Pelorus was built by Luerssen. Christiane Quentin/Bongarts/Getty Images
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's yacht Pelorus was built by Luerssen. Christiane Quentin/Bongarts/Getty Images
  • Luerssen is looking into its clients because it needs to answer to authorities, Bloomberg reported.
  • The yachtmaker built two of the three biggest superyachts that have been seized in recent weeks.
  • Other yacht companies are also looking to cut Russian ties.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The German yachtmaker Luerssen, which has built yachts for Russian oligarchs, is looking into who its customers are by sending out questionnaires. 

In a letter seen by Bloomberg, Luerssen sought information about its customer base because it needs to answer to authorities on the "geopolitical situation in Ukraine." 

The questionnaires inquire into ownership of yachts under construction at Luerssen's sites, according to the letter.

Luerssen built two of the three biggest superyachts with ties to Russian billionaires, which have been seized in recent weeks due to sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg reported.

According to the outlet, at least 13 yachts worth over $2.25 billion have been seized and impounded since the invasion. Russian oligarchs and billionaires seeking to escape these sanctions have gone to the Maldives, in addition to the UAE, in places where Western sanctions don't apply.

"The conflict has also had the effect of increasing scrutiny into the ownership of large yachts," Luerssen wrote in its letter to its clients.

Luerssen did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal working hours. A spokesperson declined to comment to Bloomberg but said the company follows all the laws and regulations.

Other yacht companies are also looking to cut Russian ties.

Monaco-based Imperial Yachts axed its Russian website and management activities, while the London-headquartered Burgess Yachts took down photos of yachts with Russian owners from its website, Bloomberg reported.

"Activities that we might normally undertake such as planning the trips that owners and others using the yachts would wish to make are of course on hold for those yachts," an Imperial spokesperson told the outlet.

Yachts, and especially superyachts, are hugely important to Russian oligarchs. They own about 9% of the world's yachts that are longer than 131 feet, and use them to cement their status among Russia's elite, experts previously told Insider.

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