Russian oligarchs have been having their yachts seized around the world, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine presses on. One yacht though was able to elude both being impounded and authorities finding out its owner. Until now. Fortune reports that a pair of Russian investigative groups may have confirmed that this mysterious yacht belongs to Vladimir Putin.
The yacht, called Scheherazade, appeared in the Italian port town of Marina di Carrara. As soon as it docked, it was shrouded in mystery. From the crew erecting a metal barrier on the pier to keep onlookers from seeing it, to a panel over the name on the bow to keep people from identifying it, no one knew who it belonged to. That’s until an investigative group led by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (who was also just sentenced to another nine years in prison on top of the two and a half he’s already serving) did some digging.
The group went the way of finding out who pays the small fries to get to the bigger fish. In this instance, the small fries were the crew of the yacht. The group was able to obtain the entire crew list for the Scheherazade.
It listed everyone from the captain to workers at the port. The list was made in December of 2020 and complied at the same port in Italy that the Scheherazade is docked at. The captain, one Guy Pearce, was recently interviewed by the New York Times. In the interview, he refused to give up the name of the owner of the Scheherazade:
The ship’s captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, a British national, denied that Mr. Putin owned or had ever been on the yacht. “I have never seen him. I have never met him,” he said. He added, in a phone interview from the yacht, that its owner was not on any sanctions list. He did not rule out that the person could be Russian, but declined to say more about the owner’s identity, citing a “watertight nondisclosure agreement.
Aside from Pearce, who is English, every single person working on the yacht is Russian. That isn’t the only thing they have in common. Using the information from the crew list which had everything from the crew’s birthdates to their visa numbers, the group was able to piece together that over half of the 23 people listed as working on the ship are not only Russian but also members of the FSO or the Federal Protective Service. This service is pretty much Putin’s personal security, or as the group described “the agency that protects Putin and organizes his life.”
The group is now focusing its efforts on the oligarchs that Putin surrounds himself with saying “Figuring out who owns what, and how much of it, is a tall order even for experienced police investigators. We decided to follow the trail.”