Moulton bill targets Russian oligarchs’ mega yachts

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Mar. 23—BOSTON — Mega yachts belonging to oligarchs with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin could be seized and resold by the federal government under a proposal filed by Congressman Seth Moulton and several other lawmakers.

The proposal, filed in the U.S. House of Representatives, would require that any Russian yachts, mega-mansions or other assets seized under the U.S. sanctions would be reallocated to humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in war-torn Ukraine.

“Some Russian oligarchs think they can ride out this war on their yachts in the Mediterranean,” Moulton said. “They’re more concerned with where their next batch of caviar is coming from than confronting their enabler, the war criminal Putin, about how he is destroying lives and wrecking the Russian economy.”

Moulton is co-sponsoring the bill — dubbed the “Yachts for Ukraine” act — with fellow Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass., and has picked up by bipartisan support from Reps. Peter Meijer, R-Michigan and Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin.

“Our message is simple: If you’re an oligarch, we’re coming for your assets, wherever you have them hidden,” Auchincloss said in a statement. “If you’re in Ukraine fighting on the front lines of democracy, more help is on the way.”

Multimillion dollar yachts and properties owned by Russian mega-rich have become symbols of how Russia’s elite have profited under Putin’s regime.

They have also been targeted by President Joe Biden and other world leaders following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Last month, Biden unveiled a series of sanctions targeting Russia’s oligarchs and major financial institutions.

“To the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more,” Biden said in remarks last month. “We are joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets. We’re coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

The U.S. Department of Justice launched a new task force that includes prosecutors, federal agents and experts in money laundering go after the sanctioned Russian assets.

In recent weeks, law enforcement officials working overseas have seized a number of super-yachts owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs including a 512-foot super-yacht owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who has close ties to Putin.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a recent statement.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at [email protected]

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