Fiji High Court Rules US can Seize Russian-Owned Superyacht ‘Amadea’

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A screen grab from a drone video footage showing the Russian-owned superyacht 'Amadea' docked at Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji May 3, 2022. Reuters TV via REUTERZ

5 May 2022, Suva Fiji. The High Court of Fiji ruled on Tuesday that the United States can seize the Russian-owned superyacht, Amadea.

The Amadea arrived in Fiji last month after an 18-day voyage where it was detected speeding across the Pacific from Mexico. Fiji police questioned its arrival without customs clearance and the superyacht was immediately impounded.

Last month the High Court of Fiji granted a restraining order filed by Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, to prevent the US$300 million dollar 347-footer superyacht Amadea from leaving the country until the finalisation of an application to register a warrant to seize the property.

In a statement this week Fiji’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has confirmed the High Court ruling granting the order to seize the Amadea.

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

 

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

 

The U.S. 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 over the war in Ukraine.

Lawyers for the Amadea have said they would seek an interim stay to stop the vessel from being towed away.

Lawyers for the 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 U.S. warrant

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 U.S. 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 the Cook Islands provided information that allowed investigators to connect the ship with its owner.