The arrival of the mega yacht owned by the Russian oligarchs in Hong Kong has sparked controversy over sanctions
HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong’s leader mocked US sanctions on Tuesday as he defended his government’s decision not to take action against a mega yacht allegedly owned by a Kremlin ally.
The Nord – a $500 million luxury ship linked to Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov – arrived in Chinese waters last week.
Mordashov is among the oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been targeted by Western sanctions in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The United States warned on Saturday that Hong Kong could damage the reputation of its mall after the city said it would not impose sanctions on the superyacht.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee himself is one of several Chinese officials sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for their role in suppressing political freedoms in the city.
Banks and other companies risk losing access to US-dominated global markets if they do business with sanctioned officials, as Lee’s predecessor revealed she had to take most of her salary in cash as a result.
When asked about the impact of US sanctions against him on Tuesday, Lee told reporters: “It is a very barbaric act and I will not comment on the impact of such a barbaric act.”
“We will scoff at the so-called sanctions.”
Its luxury yachts have been confiscated in places such as Spain and Fiji, but Hong Kong said on Friday that while UN sanctions were in place, it could not enforce those imposed by “unilateral” countries or blocs.
Lee repeated that argument on Tuesday, calling US and European sanctions “they have no legal basis.”
“We will comply with any UN resolution on sanctions because Hong Kong has the legal basis to impose them,” he said.
But he added: “We cannot and will not do anything that has no legal basis.”