US agents take control of Russian oligarch’s superyacht in Fiji
Posted On May 6, 2022
The Amadea – believed to be owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Sulieman Kerimov – was seized by Fijian authorities yesterday afternoon following a legal wrangle lasting weeks.
Agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Marshals Service operating in Fiji helped local authorities to execute a seizure warrant.
“Fijian law enforcement, with the support and assistance of the FBI, acted pursuant to a mutual legal assistance request from the US Department of Justice,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
The luxurious yacht has been the centre of legal proceedings since it arrived in Fiji in mid-April as the public prosecutor attempted to register a US warrant for its seizure.
The vessel’s owners tried to stop the enforcement action.
“This yacht seizure should tell every corrupt Russian oligarch that they cannot hide – not even in the remotest part of the world,” US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.
“We will use every means of enforcing the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine.”
Defence lawyers have claimed the real owner of the Amadea was Russian business tycoon Eduard Khudainatov.
Khudainatov is the former chairman and chief executive of Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian oil and gas company.
Crucially, Khudainatov currently does not appear to face any sanctions, unlike many oligarchs and people with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been sanctioned since the war began.
Defence lawyers have claimed in court that Millemarin Investments Ltd (sometimes spelled Millemarine) is the legal owner of the vessel and that the company is linked to the real, or beneficial, owner – Khudainatov.
But US authorities have claimed that behind all the various fronts, the real owner is Kerimov, an economist and former Russian politician, who was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for alleged money laundering and has faced further sanctions from Canada, Europe and Britain after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Kerimov made a fortune investing in Russian gold producer Polyus, with Forbes magazine putting his net worth at $14.5 billion.
According to Boat International, the Amadea is 106 metres long and was built in 2017.
It features a stainless steel albatross that extends off the bow and weighs more than five tonnes, a live lobster tank in the galley, a 10-metre pool, a hand-painted Pleyel piano and a large helipad.
– Reported with Associated Press
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