Russian-owned £38million super yacht impounded by NCA in Canary Wharf

The vessel, called Phi, was detained at Canary Wharf by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) this morning.

A Russian-owned £38 million ‘superyacht’ has been impounded in Canary Wharf.

It is the first time such an operation has been conducted in UK waters.

The vessel, called Phi, was detained at Canary Wharf by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) this morning.

Officers from the NCA’s Combating Kleptocracy Cell served a detention notice on the master of superyacht owned by a Russian national.

Officers from the National Crime Agency’s Combating Kleptocracy Cell have this morning served a detention notice on a superyacht owned by a Russian national. Credit: NCA / SWNS

Phi’s owner is not currently subject to UK sanctions. But, under current regulations, a ship owned, controlled, chartered or operated by persons connected with Russia, may be subject to a detention direction by the Secretary of State for Transport.

Intelligence work by the Cell – supported by colleagues from Border Force Maritime Intelligence Bureau – identified the ultimate owner of the vessel.

The information was passed to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who today ordered the first ever detention of a superyacht in UK waters.

Following some fast-paced work by intelligence officers in the Cell, supported by colleagues from Border Force Maritime Intelligence Bureau, the ultimate owner of the vessel Phi was identified. Credit: NCA / SWNS

As a result NCA officers issued the notice of detention.

Owned by a Russian businessman, Phi is the third biggest yacht built by prestigious shipbuilders Royal Huisman and includes what the builders call an “infinite wine cellar” and patented fresh-water swimming pool.

NCA chiefs said the ownership of the yacht was deliberately well hidden.

The company the ship is registered to is based in the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis, and it carried Maltese flags to hide its origins.

Officers from the National Crime Agency's Combating Kleptocracy Cell have this morning served a detention notice on a superyacht owned by a Russian national. Credit: NCA / SWNS

Andy Devine, of the NCA, said: “Today’s activity demonstrates the NCA’s ability to react at pace.

“We have surged officers to establish the Combatting Kleptocracy Cell, and the results of this are already bearing fruit.

“The NCA plays a vital role in targeting suspect assets, pursuing enablers of illicit wealth and supporting government partners in the delivery of the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Mr Shapps, said: “Today we’ve detained a £38 million superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies.

“Detaining the Phi, proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from Russian connections.”

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