£38m Russian-owned superyacht seized in Canary Wharf

£38million superyacht Phi was detained in Canary Wharf as part of Russia sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine

Phi, a superyacht worth £38million, has been held in Canary Wharf by the UK as part of Russia sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine - Credit: NCA

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

A detention notice was served on the vessel, Phi, by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers yesterday - Tuesday, January 29 - under sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Phi is said to be the third biggest yacht built by prestigious shipbuilders Royal Huisman and features what the builders call an “infinite wine cellar” and a patented fresh-water swimming pool.

The NCA says the ownership of the yacht was "deliberately well hidden" but intelligence officers identified the ultimate owner as a Russian national, who the agency did not name.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP then ordered what was the first ever detention of a superyacht in UK waters.

Mr Shapps said: "We’ve detained a £38m superyacht and turned an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and stark warning to Putin and his cronies.

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

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According to the NCA, the superyacht is registered to a company based in the islands of St Kitts and Nevis and it carried Maltese flags to hide its origins.

Officers from  the NCA's Combating Kleptocracy Cell worked with the Border Force Maritime Intelligence Bureau to quickly establish its Russian links after it arrived in the London business district.

Andy Devine from the NCA said the action demonstrated the law enforcement agency's ability to "react at pace".

He said: "The NCA plays a vital role in targeting suspect assets, pursuing enablers of illicit wealth and supporting government partners in the delivery of the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine."