A £700 million superyacht said to belong to Russian despot Vladimir Putin is technically free to sail, the CEO of the firm carrying out its refit has revealed.
The Scheherazade – which is listed as the 13th largest yacht in the world – has been at the centre of scrutiny for the last two weeks after reports claimed it was owned by Putin.
She is currently undergoing repairs at Marina di Carrara’s dry dock, close to Pisa. This month, the Italian financial police boarded her and began investigating who its true owner was.
Earlier this week allies of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny claimed it was Putin’s yacht and hours later Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky demanded it be seized when he addressed MPs in Rome.
Giovanni Costantino, the CEO of The Italian Sea Group who are carrying out the refit said today that the yacht was now free to sail, as she had not been issued any confiscation papers.
Scheherazade is the 13th-largest superyacht in the world. It’s currently moored at a dry dock in Italy, rumours persist that it belonged to Vladimir Putin.
He said:’ There is no order so the yacht can leave but technically as there is work being done it won’ t be happening, she is in dry dock.
‘The refit taking place will go on until the end of April and then there will have to be checks, mainly technical, so before it leaves the dry dock it will be June at the earliest.’
When asked by a local newspaper if the yacht belonged to Putin, Mr Costantino replied: ‘I’ll be honest we just don’t know.
‘What I will say is that we have handed over paperwork as requested by the authorities, and it has emerged that the owner is Russian.
‘However, his name is not Putin and the name we have is not on the list of oligarchs which are under investigation.
‘If there was anything untoward then the yacht would have been seized immediately but for the time being that just hasn’t happened.’
The Scheherazade is under close security today with guards monitoring the perimeter fence, where top two decks might be quickly over the high wall.
The Scheherazade is under close security today with guards monitoring the perimeter fence
It boasts luxurious fittings such as a spa with a front and back helicopter landing pad and a jacuzzi.
The self-leveling pool table and cryotherapy room are also available. There’s even a grand-piano that plays Vladimir Putin Is a Fine Fellow.
The yacht was being maintained by workers. Guy Bennett-Pearce, the British captain of the vessel, did not respond to calls.
A pal of his who asked not to be named but who worked with him in Australia said:’ I worked with Guy on a yacht around 15 years ago and we last spoke about ten years ago.
‘He’s a very able captain and he’s a good sailor but at the same time he is very discreet and he will not say anything that will cause the owners any bad publicity.’
Russian crew members who had been aboard the yacht earlier in the month mysteriously disappeared and were later replaced by British ones.
Mr Costantino added:’ The work onboard is going on 24/24, round the clock so it’s usual for these sort of changes to happen.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday urged Italy to seize a £500million superyacht thought to be owned by Vladimir Putin (pictured)
‘But the crew isn’t entirely Russian, they are made up of various nationalities.’
Paolo Gozzani, chief of the local union met with Marina di Carrara port officials to discuss the most recent developments regarding the yacht.
Afterwards he told MailOnline:’ They are completely in dark as we all are. No-one seems to know what’s happening with the yacht.
‘There was a rumour the police were going to impound her, but nothing has happened and so that’s obviously not right.
‘What I’m worried about is what will happen to the employees at the yard if she is seized because it’s my members livelihoods at stake.
As authorities around Europe race to seize and identify yachts linked to Russian oligarchs, the Italian probe into Scheherazade’s ownership comes amid an investigation by Italy
Scheherazade currently docked at Marina di Carrara shipyard for repairs, Italy. This superyacht is among the biggest and most costly in the world. Since its launch in 2020 its true owner has been shrouded in total secrecy
‘I asked about the captain and the crew but all they could tell me was the Russians were all taken away at night in minibuses and they were replaced by a British crew.’
MailOnline was told by a shipyard worker that he had left the company: “We were told not to speak or we would lose our jobs.” This yard is known for its yacht-building work, and most of the customers are Russian.
“I am working somewhere else in the yard, but a friend on the boat that they call Putin’s says they will be taking up the floors on the decks and replacing them. Her stay will last for a few more months.
A spokesperson for the Italian Financial Police said:’ The investigations are ongoing and for the time being there is nothing to add, when there is we will make an announcement.’