French court cancels seizure of yachts attributed to Russian tycoon Berezovsky

A French appeals court has cancelled a decision to seize two luxurious yachts allegedly belonging to fugitive Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, Le Parisien newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The yachts, worth around $20 million, were seized in February off the resort town of Antibes in the French Riviera, where Berezovsky has a mansion, at the request of Russian prosecutors. The seizure was part of an ongoing criminal investigation against the Russian oligarch, who has been in self-exile in London since 2000. Berezovsky has denied that the yachts belonged to him.

The French court has satisfied an appeal by a Russian-owned British-based company which said it bought the yachts two years ago, the paper quoted the Shift Line Limited company’s lawyer as saying.

The total cost of the seized yachts, one of which is the 50-meter-long ThunderB, is estimated to reach 14 million euros (over $20 million), Le Parisien said.

Over a dozen criminal probes have been launched in Russia against Berezovsky, a one-time close associate of the late president Boris Yeltsin, including on charges of plotting to stage a coup and embezzling $13 million from a leading Russian bank.

Russia has issued multiple warrants for Berezovsky’s arrest and has repeatedly demanded his extradition from Britain.

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