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Vladimir Putin’s giant super yacht to be seized by Italian authorities

Authorities had denied that the boat belongs to the Russian president

The Scheherazade 459ft super-yacht docked at the shipyard in Marina Di Carrara, Italy, believed to be owned by Vladimir Putin. Photo: Francesco Mazzei/Bloomberg

Clodagh Meaney

A giant super yacht alleged to be owned by Vladimir Putin is set to be seized by Italian authorities.

Authorities in Italy recommend that the $700 million boat be impounded as it is subject of investigations by the Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s agency for investigating financial crime and fraud.

A spokesperson for Guardia di Finanza said: “After verification by the fiscal authorities it has come to light that there is a significant economic connection between the owner of The Scheherazade and senior elements of the Russian government.

“On the basis of these elements it has been recommended that the yacht be placed on the current European Union sanctions list and the Minister of Finance in Rome has agreed.”

Guardia di Finanza’s Mariateresa Levi told MailOnline that they could not confirm who the actual owner of the yacht is but said that they are satisfied that it should be seized.

“The yacht should be seized and in the next few hours officers will board and impound her.”

The Scheherazade, which is over 450ft long with spas, swimming pools and two helicopter pads, has been docked at Marina di Carrara near Pisa since September as it is undergoing a refit.

It is currently blocked from leaving the port.

In recent days a flurry of activity around the boat has led to fears it could be taken to sea and sailed to Turkey in a bid to avoid the sanctions.

Russian investigative journalist Maria Pevchikh shared on Twitter: “Ok guys we have a problem, Putin's secret $700 million yacht is about to escape sanctions by simply taking off from Italy.”

“It's a matter of days now,” the tweet continued.

“The Italian authorities are doing nothing to stop it. So we should.”

The yacht’s captain, a British man named Guy Bennett-Pearce, denied that the Russian president owns the boat, but refused to reveal who the owner is.

It has been claimed that the vessel belongs to Russian oil tycoon Eduard Khudainatov.

The former chairman and chief executive of Rosneft, the state-owned Russian company that deals in oil and gas, has not yet been hit with sanctions.

Rosneft’s chairman Igor Sechin is an ally of Putin's.

Activists and investigative journalists linked to Alexei Navalny are convinced that the vessel belongs to Putin.

Information obtained by Navalny’s team suggests that many of the yacht's crew were members of the Federal Protection Service, the agency that provides security for Putin and his associates.

The documents also show that the official owner is an offshore company in the Marshall Islands.

Putin is known to list family or friends as owners, with his name almost never used on official documents in a bid to hide his massive wealth.

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