- A superyacht belonging to a Russian businessman was arrested in London on Tuesday by British authorities.
- The ship’s captain said his support vessel was inspected by Italian authorities on Thursday.
- He claims the Italian Coast Guard said everything appeared to be in order after reviewing the ship’s documents.
The captain of a $50 million superyacht detained by British authorities said the vessel’s support vessel was boarded by Italian authorities on Thursday.
Guy Booth, the captain of the Phi vessel who was detained in London this week, told Insider that local authorities boarded Phi’s support vessel, Phi Phantom, in the Italian port of Imperia on Thursday. The 118ft support vessel has the same owner as Phi, Booth said.
Booth said two Italian coastguard officers had requested all of the ship’s paperwork: “The paperwork was taken away for review, and several hours later the paperwork was returned to the captain with a ‘Thank you very much, everything appears to be in order'”, he said.
Italian authorities did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on whether or why coast guard officers reviewed Phi Phantom’s documents.
The 192ft yacht, Phi, was detained by the UK on Tuesday at Canary Wharf, London’s financial hub. The Financial Times reported that the ship is owned by Vitaly Vasilievich Kochetkov, the founder of Motiv Telecom.
On March 1, the United Kingdom barred all Russian-owned or operated vessels from its ports and gave authorities the power to detain Russian vessels. Four weeks later, Phi became the “first” superyacht to be detained in British waters, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.
Booth previously said Phi’s detention was “an excess of government power and nothing more than a publicity stunt”.
The West sanctioned Russian elites and seized their assets to pressure the country to stop its invasion of Ukraine.
Shapps said in mid-March the UK was investigating “a small number of yachts” suspected of having links to Russian oligarchs. On Tuesday, Shapps said that by detaining Phi, authorities had “turned an icon of Russian power and wealth into a stark and stark warning to Putin and his cronies.”
But the NCA declined to provide further details about Phi’s owner, describing him simply as a “Russian businessman” and saying he had “deliberately” kept his ownership of the vessel secret. Kochetkov, who is believed to be the owner, was not sanctioned by the UK.
“The vessel is not seized, just detained,” an NCA spokesperson told Insider, speaking of Phi. “He remains the property and liability of the owner but is effectively prevented from leaving.”
Phi has been moored at Canary Wharf since December after making her maiden voyage from the Netherlands.