Score another win for the United States court and another loss for the Russian oligarchy. America won a legal battle this week allowing them to seize control of a Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji. American officials did not waste any time taking command of the $325 million ship and sailing it away from the South Pacific nation.
The United States has hit some hurdles in its effort to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs globally. Many who oppose the war in Ukraine are anxious to get this done, but others have tested the limits of the court system in America as it affects other nations abroad.
The Supreme Court in Fiji lifted a stay order which had kept the U.S. from seizing the superyacht called Amadea. Chief Justice Kamal Kumar gave the ruling that the chances of defense lawyers mounting an appeal that the High Court would be willing to hear were “nil to very slim.”
And he also said that he believed the arguments that said keeping the vessel at the Fiji harbor was costing their government greatly.
Kumar said, “The fact that U.S. authorities have undertaken to pay costs incurred by the Fijian government is totally irrelevant.” He also said that the Amadea “sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States of America.”
It only took a little over an hour for the U.S. to remove the superyacht after the court made its ruling. They were moving quickly in case there was any effort for more legal maneuvering.
A spokesperson for the U.S., Anthony Coley, said that the vessel left Fiji under a new flag and that American authorities were grateful to officials in Fiji who persevered to make the transition possible.
No one knows for sure exactly where the ship will be taken. The ship has been linked to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.
There are some underlying and unresolved questions about money laundering and the ownership of the vessel, and they will be settled in the United States.
The FBI has linked the Amadea to the Kerimov family through their alleged use of code names while on board the ship. The vessel became a target of the FBI Task Force KleptoCapture. This task force was launched in March to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs in hopes that there would be pressure placed on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.
Amadea is a 106-meter (348-foot) long vessel that is the size of a football field. It has a live lobster tank, a hand-painted piano, a swimming pool, and a large helipad.
Some of the paperwork on the board seemed to indicate that Eduard Khudainatov was the owner. He is also the owner, on paper, of an even bigger superyacht named Scheherazade. This board has been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There have been some questions about whether Khudainatov had enough money to own two yachts worth more than $1 billion.
“The fact that Khudainatov is being held out as the owner of two of the largest superyachts on record, both linked to sanctioned individuals, suggests that Khudainatov is being used as a clean, unsanctioned straw owner to conceal the true beneficial owners,” the FBI wrote in court documents.
Some documents indicate that Kerimov bought the Amadea through various shell companies. The FBI found emails showing that Kerimov’s children were onboard the ship. Kerimov made his fortune investing in Russian gold producer Polyus. Forbes put his net worth at $14.5 billion.
I guess you need to subtract $325 million from that now.