Gibraltar gets over 60 bids for seized Russian superyacht

Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky's Axioma superyacht is seen docked at a port in Gibraltar, in March 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

GIBRALTAR (AFP) - Gibraltar has received dozens of bids after putting a Russian oligarch's seized superyacht up for auction, a court in the British enclave said on Tuesday (Aug 23).

"Sixty-three bids have been received," billionaire businessman Dmitry Pumpyansky's luxury vessel, the court said in a statement.

Bidding is now closed.

The winner will be selected by the enclave's Admiralty Marshall.

The transaction is expected to be completed within two weeks, after which the sale value will be disclosed.

The auction does not include an estimated €150,000 (S$200,000) worth of wine and other bottles which were aboard the yacht when it was seized.

A Gibraltar court ordered the sale of the superyacht, which was seized in March under sanctions imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Authorities in the tiny British enclave on the southern tip of Spain impounded the 72m-long vessel My Axioma following a complaint filed by US bank JP Morgan.

In December 2021, the lender granted a loan of €20.5 million to a company registered in the British Virgin Islands whose shareholders included a Cypriot firm owned by Pumpyansky.

JP Morgan considered the inclusion of Pumpyansky on Britain's sanctions list a breach of the loan contract since it led to the freezing of his assets.

As a result, the bank asked authorities to seize the Malta-flagged yacht, which was listed as one of the loan guarantees, and requested that it be sold to repay the loan.

Gibraltar's Supreme Court will decide how to distribute the auction funds, by determining "the priority of claims brought by creditors" of the Russian oligarch.

Pumpyansky, the owner of Russian steel pipemaker TMK, is also the target of European Union sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Authorities in Spain, Italy and France have also impounded yachts with links to Russian oligarchs as part of Europe's efforts to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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