Is superyacht Nord on a sales tour?


The movement of superyacht Nord has attracted a lot of headlines, but is the yacht actually on a sales tour?

Yachting market sources in Hong Kong say that the yacht may have been viewed by several potential customers who are not concerned about its owner, Alexey Mordashov, being sanctioned by the US, EU and UK.

The US attempted to seize the Nord when it was in Hong Kong.

Sanctioned by the US, EU and UK on 2nd June this year, Mordashov had a net worth of $29.4bn before the invasion of Ukraine, according to Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. Bloomberg says he now has $18.5bn.

Another yacht belonging to the steel tycoon, Lady M, was seized by authorities in the northern Italian port of Imperia.

Nord has been given the all-clear to dock in Cape Town by president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The vessel has now been permitted to dock in South African territorial waters despite protests from Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis and Cape Town Premier, Alan Winde.

“South Africa should not be offering sanctuary to sanctioned Russian oligarchs,” Mayor Hill-Lewis said on Twitter. “We call on [the Department of International Relations and Cooperation] to uphold international sanctions and deny the yacht entry. Putin’s war accomplices are not welcome in Cape Town.”

Despite the objections, neither have the power to deny entry to Cape Town’s harbours, which lies with the national government.

In response to criticism and calls from the US to seize the vessel, the president made it clear that South Africa would not bow to western sanctions.

“South Africa has no legal obligation to abide by sanctions imposed by the US and EU,” presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said in a statement on Tuesday (October 25th). “We have no reason to prevent their entry into South Africa.”

“South Africa’s obligations with respect to sanctions relate only to those that are specifically adopted by the United Nations. Currently, there are no UN-imposed sanctions on the particular individual.”

The stance taken by president Ramaphosa is similar to that of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Officer, John Lee, who said he would “laugh off” the sanctions and request to seize the vessel.

Lee, who was himself sanctioned last year, dismissed the challenge from the US to seize the vessel in a statement, also saying that there is “no legal basis” for the nation to seize the vessel at the request of the US or EU.

In Hong Kong, we have the rule of law,” he said. “We will comply with any United Nations resolution on sanctions because Hong Kong has the legal basis to do so.”

Hong Kong-based Paul Jebely, partner, Withersworldwide told SYI, “The maximalist demands of unilateral US sanctions in Hong Kong seem to me to fly in the face of the US government policy of supporting some sort of imaginary Westphalian sovereignty of Hong Kong, when it is useful to US government interests at least.

A spokesperson for the US government had challenged Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial hub if it did not adhere to Washington’s demands of seizing the vessel.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said that the use of Hong Kong as a safe haven by individuals evading sanctions “calls into question the transparency of the business environment” in the nation-state.

These claims and threats have been poorly received to say the least. [The rhetoric] also flies in the face of the principle of “comity” ­that would normally serve to discourage the frankly heavy-handed tactics evident in the US government threats about Hong Kong’s global financial status over this affair,” said Jebely.

Whilst it is unclear what will happen to Nord, who is selling it and who it will be sold to, it could potentially be a landmark event. If it is eventually sold, you will likely see more Russian-owned vessels travelling to states that do not care about the sanctions.