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Melnichenko’s $300 million Motor Yacht A.  

Melnichenko’s $300 million Motor Yacht A.  

Photographer: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Yachts and Money Are Going Where US Influence Has Waned

American allies in the Middle East have emerged as magnets for Russia’s wealthy.

Andrey Melnichenko was in a bind. Squeezed by European sanctions targeting Russian billionaires, one of Russia’s richest men needed a safe jurisdiction to protect the businesses he’d built. He found it in the United Arab Emirates.

Moscow-based coal producer SUEK and Zug, Switzerland-based fertilizer firm EuroChem, both founded by Melnichenko, are opening local trading units in the Gulf oil exporter, according to five people with knowledge of the matter. The 50-year-old resigned from the boards of both companies ahead of EU sanctions imposed over his alleged ties to the Kremlin. Swiss authorities said in May they’d unfrozen EuroChem’s accounts after Melnichenko transferred ownership to his wife.  

Already spending more time in Dubai, Melnichenko moved his $300 million Motor Yacht A to the city in December, keeping it there through early March, according to Bloomberg tracking data. It was last spotted off the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah. His other yacht was seized by Italy in March.