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Fiji court rules United States can seize Russian superyacht Amadea: Reports

Published: Updated:

A Fiji court ruled on Tuesday that the United States can seize a Russian-owned superyacht, media reported, 21 days after the luxury vessel Amadea arrived in the Pacific island nation and was detained by police.

US authorities assert that the Amadea is ultimately owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union.

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The US Justice Department’s Taskforce KleptoCapture has focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets to put the
finances of Russian oligarchs under strain in a bid to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease his war in Ukraine.

Fiji’s High Court ruled it would grant an order to register a US seizure warrant, Fiji Broadcasting Corp reported.

The vessel’s lawyers, the Haniff Tuitoga law firm, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment but media reported that lawyers for the Amadea said they would seek an interim stay to stop the vessel being towed away.

The Amadea arrived in Fiji last month after an 18-day voyage across the Pacific from Mexico.

It was detained by Fiji police and its captain questioned on why the vessel had arrived in Fiji waters without customs clearance.

Fiji’s High Court last month granted a restraining order stopping the Amadea from leaving Fiji until the court had considered the US seizure warrant.

Fiji authorities said they are acting on the US request under Fiji’s Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act.

Lawyers for the 350-foot motor yacht’s registered owner, Millemarin Investments, have denied it is ultimately owned by
Kerimov.

They told the court it was owned by another Russian oligarch, Eduard Khudainatov, the former president of oil giant Rosneft, who has not been sanctioned, media reported.

Fiji authorities had argued that the court did not need to determine ownership of the vessel, only that it was subject to a US warrant in a money-laundering case.

The United States sanctioned Kerimov, a former Russian politician who made his fortune in gold, in 2018 and 2014 in response to Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine.

The US embassy in Suva did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court ruling.

In a separate Taskforce KleptoCapture case linked to the Pacific, the 255-foot superyacht Tango, alleged to belong to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, was impounded by Spanish police on behalf of US authorities in April.

Tango is flagged in the Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands, which said it assisted in the investigation.

A spokesman for the Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration told Reuters that after being contacted by the United States about the Tango, they arranged for an agent to do an inspection of it in Majorca and identified several deficiencies that meant it would not be leaving the port quickly.

The Cook Islands was able to provide information that allowed investigators to connect the ship with its owner, the spokesman said.

Read more: US seeks to seize superyacht in Fiji from suspected Russian owner

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