Italy seeks Russian oligarch whose seized yachts disappeared from Sardinia | Italy

Italian authorities are on the hunt for a Russian oligarch after two of his luxury yachts that were seized under EU sanctions mysteriously disappeared from a port in Sardinia.

A public notice informing Dmitry Mazepin, the billionaire owner of a mineral fertiliser company, of the penalties against him over the alleged illegal removal of the vessels has been issued by the town hall of Forte dei Marmi, the Tuscan coastal resort where the oligarch owns a home.

The yachts, both called Aldabra but featuring maritime flags of two different countries, went missing from the Sardinian port of Olbia within weeks of each other last summer.

They were seized last March after Mazepin, who is the father of the former Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin, was named on the sanctions list a few weeks after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It is the first case in Italy of a Russian with assets frozen in the country who has managed to dodge EU sanctions.

An investigation led by Olbia’s finance police found that the first vessel, said to be worth between €700,000 and €1m (between £613,000 and £876,000), left Olbia in June and made a stopover at the small port of Bizerte in Tunisia.

The second yacht is known to have left Olbia for Savona, a port in the northern Italian region of Liguria, before heading to Turkey. The current whereabouts of the yachts and their owner is unknown.

Police said Mazepin hired a foreign company, which in turn hired a Sardinian captain to move the yachts away from Italy.

The intermediary company and captain have both been hit with fines of up to €500,000. Mazepin faces the same penalties.

A police source said that he is fiscally resident in Forte dei Marmi, a popular destination for Russian oligarchs before the war in Ukraine, as he owns a villa in the town, hence why the notice was issued there.

A villa in Sardinia owned by Mazepin is also among the Russian-owned assets frozen across the island. Mazepin bought the villa, called Rocky Ram, from Carlo De Benedetti, an Italian businessman and former owner of La Repubblica newspaper.

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