(Corrects spellings of Alekperov and Sukhoruchkin)
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Two Russian members of the supervisory board of Dutch luxury yacht maker Heesen Yachts stepped down on Wednesday, the company said, citing “developments of the current international situation in Ukraine.”
Heesen, one of four major luxury yacht makers in the Netherlands, is owned by Morcell Ltd. of Cyprus, the investment vehicle of billionaire Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov, though its managers are Dutch.
Neither Alekperov nor the resigning board members are on international sanctions lists, though trading in Lukoil shares has been suspended.
“The current situation (leads) us to step back for the good of a company that is close to our hearts,” Pavel Sukhoruchkin and Pavel Novoselov said in a statement.
Their resignations were first reported by Dutch investigative news site “Follow The Money”.
Wealthy Russians are the second-largest purchasers of yachts longer than 40 meters, after Americans, according to a 2021 report by industry publication SuperYacht Times.
Yacht-building is a significant industry in the Netherlands, with chamber of commerce records showing that Heesen, Feadship, Damen Shipyards, and Oceanco had combined sales of around 1.5 billion euros ($1.66 billion) in 2020.
The resignations at Heesen come after United States President Joe Biden said at the start of the month that the U.S. was “joining with our European allies to find and seize (oligarchs’) yachts.”
While France has seized one luxury yacht it says is linked to sanctioned Rosneft boss Igor Sechin, others such as one owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov in Hamburg, have become stuck or delayed in ports or shipyards due to international financial sanctions.
Reuters reported on March 3 that at least 5 yachts owned by Russian billionaires have moved to the Maldives, which has no extradition treaty with the United States.
($1 = 0.9056 euros)
(Reporting by Toby SterlingEditing by Bernadette Baum)