Johannesburg – South Africa’s largest opposition on Wednesday warned that government risks sanctions if it allows a luxury megayacht linked to one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarch’s to dock in its territorial waters.
The Nord – a $500 million vessel linked to Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov – is reportedly en route to South Africa having left Hong Kong last week where it spent three weeks.
Mordashov is among the tycoons close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been sanctioned by the United States, the European Union and Britain following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis this week wrote to government asking it to block the ship’s entry into the country’s territorial waters.
But a South African presidential spokesman said on Tuesday Pretoria has “no reason to prevent” the vessel’s entry.
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“South Africa has no legal obligation to abide by sanctions imposed by the US and EU,” Vincent Magwenya, told a briefing.
Multiple jurisdictions have seized Russian oligarchs’ yachts and other assets this year.
Mayor Hill-Lewis warned of the consequences of hosting the Russian oligarch.
“We face grey-listing because of our lax approach to money launderers and racketeers, now we can add sanction-dodgers too,” said Hill-Lewis on Wednesday.
One of the continent’s power houses, South Africa has resisted taking sides following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a war which has triggered sweeping Western sanctions.
Hill-Lewis said South Africa had “a moral duty to do what it can to protest unjust war, state terrorism and the gross violation of human rights”.
The superyacht was expected to reach South Africa on November 8 or 9.
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