By Alex Finley
Now that a number of yachts allegedly owned by Russian oligarchs have been detained (nine, at the time of this writing), I thought we should take a look at what may happen next, practically speaking. Spoiler alert: no one really knows, and all the players in the Yacht Watch game face big challenges. (Ed. Note: Check out Alex's first column on the big yachts owned by the oligarchs from two weeks ago.)
First up: The Authorities.
So far, Italy has detained three yachts, Spain three, and Croatia, Germany, and France one each. Now for the hard part.
The main challenge will be confirming who actually owns these yachts. Officials can detain them for a certain amount of time based on suspicion or open source reports, but eventually beneficial ownership, or the individual who actually owns the yacht (as opposed to the company listed as the owner), has to be confirmed by untangling the financial web of shell companies and management companies that shield the ultimate owner. How much time do they have to do this? Unclear. But based on government press statements, in all likelihood authorities plan to detain the boats as long as sanctions are in place or until it is proven the owner is not on the sanctions list.
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