Antigua and Barbuda said on Friday that it is willing to assist Britain in seizing boats owned by sanctioned Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, but that the UK must do it through an international convention.
The vessels Halo and Garcon, which are now moored in Antigua and Barbuda, are owned by Abramovich through a British Virgin Islands business that is on the UK’s sanctions list, according to the Financial Times.
Because the vessels haven’t been tied to any crimes in Antigua, the island’s ambassador to the US, Ronald Sanders, said the government wouldn’t be able to confiscate or imprison them on their own.
A formal request under the two countries’ mutual legal aid convention, a shared framework by which nations cooperate to help enforce laws, would be required.
In a telephone interview, Sanders added, “We’ve said that we’re absolutely eager to collaborate, but under the rule of law.”
“The only way we can (seize the vessels) is if the British establish that this is a person they seek because he has committed some crime in their mutual legal aid treaty request.”
According to a letter from the British Virgin Islands to Antigua and Barbuda dated March 29, Abramovich is the owner of the company Wenham Overseas Limited,
Wenham Overseas Limited and Abramovich, who made a surprise appearance at peace negotiations in Istanbul on Tuesday to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, did not respond to Shauntv requests for comment.
Since last week, Abramovich-linked superyachts worth an estimated $1.2 billion have been parked in southwest Turkey.
As part of their effort to isolate President Vladimir Putin and his allies over the invasion of Ukraine, Western governments have imposed sanctions on Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs.