Illicit actors will go to great lengths to hide their assets. One prime example is Vagit Alekperov, a Russian oligarch who was sanctioned by a number of Western countries following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It’s publicly known that Alekperov owns several yachts; however, a closer look at their ownership structures shows a complicated, cross-border network of shell companies and trusts.
By combining vessel ownership data, corporate records, and open-source reporting, we were able to trace the ownership of all three yachts back to Alekperov through eight layers of corporate entities, including shell companies in Malta and Cyprus as well as a discretionary trust. This type of analysis not only provides a closer look at the ownership structure itself, it is also an effective way to generate new leads into additional assets owned by Alekperov or his family, as well as unveil key business associates.
Sayari Graph, our commercial risk intelligence platform, makes it possible to visualize the complex ownership structures that oligarchs like Alekperov use to obscure funds and assets. Below we explain how we conducted this investigation and how you can apply the same tools to your next investigation.
Vessel Ownership Data is Not Enough
Phase One: Identify the Direct Owner of the Yacht
The three yachts we are interested in are Galactica Super Nova (IMO: 9798234); Genesis (IMO: 9859222); and Space (IMO: 9662980). Vessel ownership data provided by Lloyd’s Seasearcher suggests the yachts are owned by Malta-registered Nova 70 Limited, Long Island Limited, and Super Waves 34 Limited, respectively.
Phase Two: Unpacking Nested, Cross-border Corporate Structures
Corporate records from Malta suggest that the owner of Nova 70 Ltd, Long Island Ltd, and Super Waves 34 Ltd is yet another Malta-registered shell company called Waves Holdings Limited.
Cypriot corporate records suggest that the majority owner of Vela Investments Limited is a discretionary trust in Guernsey called the Verona Trust. Alekperov and his family are the beneficiaries of the trust, according to corporate documents filed in the London Stock Exchange for Lukoil, a large Russian energy company for which Alekperov previously served as the CEO.
Intermediary Companies Provide Leads for Additional Investigations
In this investigation, our main goal was to map the ownership structure behind three luxury yachts and to verify Russian oligarch Vagit Alekperov as the owner. But there are plenty of avenues we could take from here to identify additional assets ultimately owned or controlled by Alekperov or his family.
For example, Malta-based Waves Holdings Limited and Cyprus-based Grindale Investments Limited both own additional entities in Malta (circled below). Further research would be required to identify whether any of these companies also own yachts or other luxury fixed assets on behalf of Alekperov.
For example, an individual named Vladislav Mokhonko shows up repeatedly across shell companies in Malta that we’ve established to be ultimately owned by Alekperov, suggesting that Mokhonko could be a key business associate operating on behalf of Alekperov.
If you’d like to recreate this investigation or pursue your own exploration, sign up today for a personalized demo of Sayari Graph to begin mapping out corporate ownership networks.