Mystery Russian's £38m superyacht with 'infinite wine cellar' seized in Canary Wharf

29 March 2022, 14:57 | Updated: 29 March 2022, 15:46

The yacht was detained in Canary Wharf
The yacht was detained in Canary Wharf. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

A £38 million superyacht owned by a Russian businessman has been seized in Canary Wharf.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ordered the detention of the yacht, named Phi after the mathematical concept, which was in the capital for a superyacht awards ceremony.

The boat has an "infinite wine cellar" and a freshwater swimming pool.

It was planning to depart at noon on Tuesday, but Mr Shapps said he took action due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"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," he said.

"Detaining the Phi, proves, yet again, that we can and will take the strongest possible action against those seeking to benefit from connections to Putin's regime."

The DfT said it was not disclosing the identity of the owner.

Superyacht owned by Russian businessman detained in London

Phi is the first ship to be held in the UK as part of punishments against Moscow for invading Ukraine.

She is bright blue and features what is described as an "infinite wine cellar" and a freshwater swimming pool.

At 58.5 metres long, she is twice as long as the other boats docked around her in Canary Wharf.

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Mr Shapps said the ship was in London for a "refit" but "won't be going anywhere".

"It's just another indication that we will not stand by whilst Putin's cronies are allowed to sail around the world in these kinds of yachts and people in Ukraine are suffering," he said.

"When you see what he's doing to Ukraine, when you see what he's doing to people's lives, it can't be right to have a yacht like this here in London, able to just sail away, and that is why we've impounded it and denied its ability to go anywhere right now."

The vessel has a swimming pool and a wine cellar on board
The vessel has a swimming pool and a wine cellar on board. Picture: Alamy
The yacht is worth nearly £40 million
The yacht is worth nearly £40 million. Picture: Getty

The vessel's horn was sounded twice while the Cabinet minister was being interviewed.

Someone thought to be a member of crew stuck a paper sign reading "P&O JUSTICE FOR THE 800" to the side of the boat, after P&O Ferries sacked nearly 800 seafarers without notice.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it worked with the National Crime Agency and the Border Force Maritime Investigation Bureau to identify and detain Phi.

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It refused to reveal the name of her owner, stating that he is "a Russian businessman".

The department described Phi's ownership as "deliberately well hidden".

She is registered to a company based in the Caribbean dual-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and carries a Maltese flag.

The DfT said it is "looking at a number of other vessels" and hopes its "strong stance sends an example to international partners".

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