Russian Oligarchs Escape Sanctions, Take Yachts to Dubai, Maldives

Get the Insider App

A personalized feed, summary mode, and ad-free experience.

Download the app

Close icon Two crossed lines that form an ‘X’. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.

  • Russian oligarchs and billionaires have been hit with sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Some have moved their yachts or sought out property in Dubai to avoid seizures.
  • “No one wants to accept you, except places like Dubai,” one Russian businessman told the NYT.

Since much of the West imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia over the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, some Russian oligarchs have scrambled to try and escape the sanctions leveled against them.

The US, UK, and European Union were among the countries to impose historically severe sanctions, targeting Russian banks, airlines, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and many in his inner circle. Financial sanctions targeted at oligarchs had cost the Russian elite more than $80 billion as of last week.

Italy seized yachts and villas worth $156 million belonging to Russian oligarchs, The Associated Press reported Saturday. Days earlier France said it had seized a $120 million superyacht belonging to a close Putin ally.

But some Russian billionaires have found refuge in places that have not imposed sanctions, or that do not extradite to the US.

In Dubai, for example, there is currently “incredible demand” from Russians for luxury apartments, like a $15,000 per month 3-bedroom on the water, one businessman in the United Arab Emirates told The New York Times.

A yacht owned by oligarch Andrei Skoch — a steel magnate and government official in Russia who was sanctioned by the US — has been camped in waters off Dubai, The Times reported. A jet belonging to another billionaire sanctioned by the US, Arkady Rotenberg, who has also known Putin since childhood, arrived to the city on Friday.

Boats and planes belonging to other oligarchs who may face sanctions have been arriving in Dubai or appear to be en route, according to The Times. On March 1, three yachts belonging to Russian billionaires were already in UAE waters, Forbes reported.

The UAE was likely to attract sanctioned oligarchs, Reuters reported last week, due to its loose laws related to money laundering and its relatively neutral stance on Russia’s assault of Ukraine.

During the first United Nations Security Council vote opposing the invasion on February 25, the UAE abstained. Though it supported a nonbinding resolution days later, the UAE has not come out in strong opposition to Russia.

An unnamed Russian businessman told The Times: “Having a Russian passport or Russian money now is very toxic — no one wants to accept you, except places like Dubai.”

“There’s no issue with being a Russian in Dubai,” he continued.

Russian oligarchs and billionaires seeking to escape sanctions have also gone to the Maldives, a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean that does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

At least five superyachts owned by Russian billionaires were there as of last week, according to maritime data seen by Reuters. Bloomberg reported last week that the four largest superyachts in the Maldives were owned by Russians.

Some Russian elites have tried to avoid sanctions in other ways, including scrambling to try and sell off their assets.

Source News