Kuzmichev sues French customs over yacht seizures

Sanctioned Russian billionaire Alexey Kuzmichev is suing French authorities in an effort to win back access to two of his yachts that were “frozen” in situ by French customs officials. His suit asserts that the officials did not have the right to detain them, even though he admits he is on an EU sanctions list, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Kuzmichev was sanctioned by the EU in March for his ties to President Vladimir Putin. The ships, Malta-flagged 24-metre yacht La Petite Ourse (MMSI 248000483) and La Petite Ourse II have been held in towns of Antibes and Cannes on the Cote d’Azur since then.

Philippe Blanchetier, Kuzmichev’s lawyer, brought the case before a court in Paris on Wednesday September 14th. He told Reuters that “if you own an asset for your personal use, like a yacht, you have the right to make use of it even though it’s frozen”. Kuzmichev also owns cars and properties in France which he can neither sell nor rent out because of the sanctions, but his lawyer noted that in these cases he was allowed to use them “I don’t know why one should make a difference when it’s a yacht”, said Blanchetier, arguing also that there were procedural flaws linked to the seizures.

The verdict on Kuzmichev’s bid to regain use of his yacht is due on October 5th, his lawyer said.