Russian oligarch yacht seized in Fiji at the request of the United States

Superyacht Amadea, believed to be owned by Russian oligarchs, moored in Fiji on April 13, 2022
Superyacht Amadea (Leon LORD / FIJI SUN / AFP) believed to be owned by Russian oligarch moored in Fiji on April 13, 2022

Fijian officials have seized a suspected superyacht belonging to the Russian oligarch, which was subject to war-related sanctions in Ukraine at the request of the United States, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

According to Washington, the estimated $ 325 million Amadea vessel belongs to Deputy Suleyman Kerimov, a businessman subject to European and American sanctions.

According to Washington, Mr. Kerimov built his fortune from investments in major Russian energy and financial companies, including Gazprom and Sberbank.

Amadea, moored in Lautoka in western Fiji since mid-April, has been stuck by Fijian authorities since the issuance of a US seizure warrant. On Tuesday, the district court ordered a seizure on the stride.

The request to seize Amadea is based on the fact that it “violates US law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering, and conspiracy,” the US State Department said in a statement.

Kerimov added that he is part of an oligarch group that “uses the Kremlin through corruption and its malicious activities around the world, including the occupation of Crimean.”

According to the specialized site, Amadea is 107 meters long and has a swimming pool, jacuzzi, heliport and “winter garden” on the deck.

“There is no hiding place for the assets of criminals who support the Russian government,” US Justice Minister Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Justice will make tireless efforts to hold the people we witness in Ukraine responsible for the death and destruction that we are witnessing,” he added.

“They can’t hide”

“This seizure shows a corrupt Russian oligarch that they can’t hide, even in the furthest parts of the world,” commented Lisa Monaco, second-ranked US Justice Department, on her part. “All the yachts I bought with dirty money are in front of us,” she said.

Some specialized sites indicate that Kerimov is the owner, but this could not be independently confirmed by AFP.

Millemarin Investment, a company registered as a boat owner, has demanded that the seizure be suspended until an appeal is decided. The High Court of the Fiji Islands rejected this request.

According to archipelago media, the yacht should be heading to the United States in the next few days.

The published copy of the US Warrant has been partially edited with a section listing various elements suggesting that Mr. Kerimov is the true owner of the yacht.

She states that ownership of Amadea was transferred to Millemarin Investment in August 2021.

According to a US warrant, Fijian authorities searched the ship last month and found “many” financial statements related to Amadea. Transaction details are hidden. According to official documents, he was supposed to go to the Philippines after Fiji.

According to the warrant, “But there is reason to believe that the intended destination was actually Vladivostok or other Russian waters.”

At the request of the United States, Spain had already seized a $ 90 million worth of superyachts owned by Russia’s Billionaire Victor Wexelberg, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

In March, Washington announced the creation of a “corrupted Russian oligarch” and a cell dedicated to prosecuting Moscow for all those who violate the sanctions adopted by Washington.

Since then, Americans have “sanctioned and blocked ships and planes worth more than a billion and frozen the hundreds of millions of dollars of Russian elite assets in US accounts,” the White House said.

President Joe Biden wants to liquidate these assets and use the money to compensate for the damage suffered by Ukraine.