Hong Kong said Friday it will not act on any “unilateral” Western sanctions, after a luxury megayacht linked to one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs docked in its waters.
The vessel, named Nord, is reportedly tied to billionaire Alexei Mordashov, one of the many oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been sanctioned by the United States, the European Union and Britain following the invasion of Ukraine.
Authorities in Spain, Italy, France and Fiji have impounded yachts linked to Putin-linked sanctioned oligarchs to try and add pressure on him.
Hong Kong, however, has said it will not take such action after the 142-metre (466-foot) yacht was spotted west of the city by eagle-eyed locals on Thursday.
The Marine Department said it implements United Nations sanctions but not those imposed by individual nations or blocs.
“The Hong Kong government does not implement, nor do we have the legal authority to take action on, unilateral sanctions imposed by other jurisdictions,” a spokesperson told AFP on Friday.
Mordashov, the main shareholder in steelmaker Severstal, is among Russia’s ultrawealthy, who have long been major buyers of superyachts — pleasure vessels classed as more than 30 metres long.
These yachts have become targets for Ukraine’s Western allies, who are hunting for the assets of sanctioned figures as they seek to punish Moscow for the Ukraine invasion.
The Nord sailed to the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok after the war began and had been anchored there since March, Bloomberg News reported.
Marine tracking websites showed the US$500 million vessel — which boasts two helipads, a cinema and more than a dozen luxury cabins, left Vladivostok last week.
It initially indicated that it was heading for the Vietnamese port of Da Nang.
A spokesperson for Mordashov told Bloomberg News on Thursday that the billionaire was in Moscow and declined to comment on the yacht’s movements.
In March, Italy seized the Lady M, a yacht belonging to Mordashov, citing EU sanctions.
Vessels arriving in Hong Kong must present a list of crew members and passengers who must pass through immigration.
Foreign yachts cannot stay for more than 182 consecutive days according to the Hong Kong Standard newspaper.
Hong Kong’s current leader John Lee is himself sanctioned by the United States alongside multiple local and mainland Chinese officials for their ongoing crackdown on political freedoms in the business hub.
China has conspicuously not condemned the invasion of Ukraine, and said it has a “no-limits” relationship with Russia.