Italian police race to find owner of $700m Putin-linked superyacht

Italian police race to find owner of $700m Putin-linked superyacht

Italy - Italian police are in a race to find out the ownership of a $700 million superyacht, which U.S. officials say is linked to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, before the vessel is put to sea and able to escape possible sanctions.

They may be running out of time.

After months dry-docked in the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara, the 459 foot vessel, called the Scheherazade, was put into the water again on Tuesday. Crew members milled around the topside as water filled the dry dock slowly. The British captain, who had previously spoken to reporters, did not respond to questions.

A former crew member said the ship could be ready to sail immediately, but that first it was likely to undergo sea trials to check its equipment, common for a ship that has been in port since September.

The Scheherazade has so far avoided the fate of some luxury yachts linked to powerful Russians, which have been seized in the effort of the European Union, Britain and the United States to go after the wealth of the oligarchs and officials in Mr. Putin's inner circle in response to the Ukraine invasion. In March, the captain of Scheherazade, Guy Bennett-Pearce, said the vessel's owner, whom he didn't identify, was not on any sanctions list. The Italian media reported that the owner was Eduard Khudainatov, an oil tycoon not currently under sanctions. He is a longtime associate of Igor Sechin, a close Putin ally and chairman of the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, who is believed to be the owner of a superyacht seized in March.