HONG KONG (HPD) — Hong Kong leader John Lee said Tuesday that he will only apply United Nations sanctions, after the United States warned that the territory’s position as a financial hub could be undermined as it serves as a haven for sanctioned people. .
Lee issued his statement a few days after a luxury yacht linked to Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov moored in the city.
Mordashov, believed to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was sanctioned by the United States, Britain and the European Union in February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Hong Kong authorities have said they will not apply unilateral sanctions imposed by other governments.
“We will comply with the United Nations sanctions, that is our system, that is our rule of law,” Lee told reporters.
A US State Department spokesman said in a statement Monday that “Hong Kong’s possible use as a safe haven by people evading sanctions from various jurisdictions raises questions about the transparency of the business environment” in the territory.
The city’s reputation as a financial hub, the spokesman added, “depends on its adherence to international laws and standards” and US companies are “increasingly wary of Hong Kong’s business environment” due to the erosion of high-grade of autonomy and the freedoms that the city previously enjoyed.
The $500 million superyacht Nord, reportedly owned by Mordashov, docked in Hong Kong port on Wednesday after a week-long voyage from the Russian city of Vladivostok.
Mordashov is one of the richest men in Russia, with an estimated fortune of around $18 billion. He is also the main investor and chairman of Severstal, the country’s largest mining and steel firm. Mordashov has tried to challenge the sanctions against him in European shorts.
US and European authorities have seized around a dozen yachts owned by Russian tycoons to prevent them from sailing to other bridges not affected by sanctions. So the oligarchs have begun mooring their yachts in ports in countries like Turkey, which has maintained diplomatic ties with Russia after the start of the war.
The Nord measures 141.6 meters (464.6 feet) with two helipads, a swimming pool and 20 cabins. It has a Russian flag.
Beijing sets Hong Kong’s foreign policy and has refused to participate in sanctions against Russia for its attacks on Ukraine.