US targets Russian yacht broker linked to Jersey

A YACHT broker with close ties to Jersey has been added to the Russian sanctions list as US authorities expand their crackdown on the assets of oligarchs around the world.

Businessman Evgeniy Kochman and two Jersey-registered companies he runs – Imperial Yachts and BLD Management – have been named by the US Treasury Department as it seeks to increase pressure on Russian leader Vladimir Putin after the country invaded Ukraine in February.

But it’s unclear whether any action will be taken against Jersey businesses, as a government spokesperson told JEP the island does not apply US sanctions – only those issued by the UK or the United Nations Security Council – and the Jersey Financial Services Commission will not. comment on individuals or entities.

U.S. Justice and Treasury Department task forces are now targeting ‘enablers’ linked to Putin’s regime, U.S. officials have said, and are trying to break the intricate networks wealthy Russians use to hide and move money. silver.

Mr Kochman’s companies are said to cater to Moscow’s elite, with Imperial Yachts operating an office in the Russian capital, although both companies are largely run from Monaco.

The companies have been registered in Jersey through the Fiduchi Group and use a mailbox at the company’s office in Kensington Street for deposits with the JFSC.

Mr. Kochman owns 5% of each company, with the remainder held by Fiduchi Trustees Ltd. Beyond that, ownership is unclear. A Fiduchi spokesperson told JEP: “We are unable to comment on individual customer queries.”

Imperial Yachts is considered one of Fiduchi’s biggest customers.

The US action against Mr Kochman and Imperial Yachts follows the seizure of the £270m mega-yacht Amadea in Fiji last month.

US authorities believe it is owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, with Imperial Yachts negotiating its sale in 2021.

The yacht was returned to the United States after a legal battle in Fiji with holding company Amadea officially registered with Millemarin Investment. US officials managed to take possession of the yacht and sail it under the US flag, with Amadea arriving in Honolulu this week.

The 348-foot yacht features a helipad, lobster pond, swimming pool, hot tub, fire pit, five-ton stainless steel Art Deco albatross figurehead, winter garden and luxurious interiors. Its annual running costs are estimated at £20-25 million.

According to a New York Times article about Mr Kochman and his companies – which described Jersey as a “secret haven” – documents found on board suggest Imperial Yachts was running the vessel as part of its high-profile services.

Imperial, dubbed a “Kremlin-associated yacht brokerage” by the U.S. Treasury, handles everything from initial construction and fit-out to charters and crewing services.

In response to international media inquiries about US sanctions, Imperial Yachts released a statement on its website saying the company had been “targeted by numerous baseless and inaccurate accusations”.

The statement said the accusations made by the US government and the press are “false” and that the company “is not involved in our client’s financial affairs.”

But US officials told the NYT it was the responsibility of people in the yacht service industry to avoid doing business with those on the sanctions list or they too would be subject to sanctions.

A spokesperson for the Jersey government said: “Jersey is a British Crown dependency and applies UK self-governing (i.e. non-UN) sanctions. It does not apply the self-governing sanctions of any other country. .

“The UK takes a robust and thorough approach when making stand-alone sanctions designations or proposed UN sanctions lists, informed by access to extensive intelligence and data, and underpinned by legally sound processes that consider the rights of individuals as well as international foreign policy issues.This is consistent with policy adopted in other Crown Dependencies and many Overseas Territories.

“It is not possible to hide the beneficial owner of an entity in Jersey. Jersey enjoys good relations with US authorities, regularly exchanges beneficial ownership information with US authorities, and was recently publicly recognized for its assistance in a US sanctions investigation.

“The island has long supported financial crime investigations by the United States and other countries around the world.”

In a statement, the JFSC said: “Jersey has a mature and sophisticated regime to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.” Working in partnership with government and other agencies, we are actively committed to upholding international standards for the prevention and detection of money laundering and terrorist financing. Where this includes penalties, we will ensure that these and our strong laws are followed. The JFSC does not comment on individuals and/or entities and therefore the JFSC will not provide any further comment at this time.

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