Hong Kong has said it will not seize the superyacht of a Russian oligarch who is under Western sanctions.
Chief executive John Lee said Hong Kong would be accountable to United Nations sanctions but not “unilateral” ones imposed by “individual jurisdictions”.
The $521m (£472m) boat belongs to Alexei Mordashov, an ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and one of the country’s richest men.
His yacht arrived in Hong Kong last week after sailing from Russia.
But Mordashov is not believed to be on it. The billionaire was sanctioned by the US, the UK and the EU after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.
But Hong Kong’s government said it was not bound by those sanctions. For close to a week now, the multi-story Nord superyacht has been a conspicuous sight in the city’s Victoria Harbour with the Russian flag flying at its mast.
“We will comply with United Nations sanctions, that is our system, that is our rule of law,” said Lee, who has himself been sanctioned by the US for his role in implementing Hong Kong’s repressive national security law.
The US, EU and UK have sanctioned hundreds of Russians and their businesses. China, however, has remained a Russian ally and has so far not condemned Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine.