The Italian finance police seized Russian oligarch Andrey Melnichenko’s mega yacht in Trieste, Italy on Friday evening.
The Guardia di Finanza made the announcement in a statement released on Friday evening. Called “SY A,” the yacht was in storage at the Port of Trieste, the statement said.
It’s worth approximately 530 million euros ($578 million), the statement added. It is one of the largest superyachts in the world, according to the manufacturer Nobiskrug.
Melnichenko was sanctioned by the European Union on March 9 as part of expanded sanctions on Russian oligarchs. According to the EU, he owns the major fertilizer producer EuroChem Group and SUEK, a coal company.
In the EU’s Council decision, which authorized sanctions against Melnichenko, they noted he and 36 other business leaders met with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion into Ukraine to discuss the potential economic impact of EU and American sanctions.
“The fact that he was invited to attend this meeting shows that he is a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine,” the EU Council decision reads.
“It also shows that he is one of the leading businesspersons involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the government of Russia, which is responsible for annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine.”
On Saturday, Melnichenko spokesman Alex Andreev told CNN that the Russian oligarch removed himself from the board of both Eurochem and SUEK (companies he founded) after the EU sanctioned him. Andreev also said that Melnichenko was also no longer the “beneficiary” of the companies, in a statement to CNN.
When asked by CNN if Melnichenko had any comment on the situation in Ukraine, Andreev declined to provide additional comment and instead pointed towards his initial emailed statement to CNN.
“Andrey Melnichenko is an international self-made entrepreneur. He has no relation to the tragic events in Ukraine. He has no political affiliations,” Andreev said in that statement. “There is no justification whatsoever for placing him on the EU sanctions list. We will be disputing these baseless and unjustified sanctions, and believe that the rule of law and common sense will prevail.”
On March 3, France’s finance ministry announced the country had seized a yacht owned by Russian oligarch and CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft Igor Sechin.
The European Union had sanctioned Sechin earlier that week, describing him as one of Putin’s “most trusted and closest advisors, as well as his personal friend.”
CNN’s Kara Scannell, Jessica Schneider, Amy Woodyatt and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting to this post.