The United States have won the bitter legal battle with Russia over oligarch superyacht Amadea, wasting zero time in taking control of the $US325 million vessel and sailing it out of the South Pacific.
The 348-foot superyacht is believed to be owned by billionaire oligarch Suleyman Kerimov, and the US now have complete control over the Amadea as they continue to crack down on seizing similar assets worldwide.
Countries opposing the ongoing war in Ukraine have praised the asset seizure, although some have raised questions over what limits American jurisdiction.
Fiji’s Supreme Court lifted the current stay order which prevented the US from officially seizing the Amadea, as an appeal from the vessel’s legal owners last week was also weighed up.
Chief Justice Kamal Kumar ruled that the chances of lawyers mounting an appeal that the nation’s federal court would here were “nil to very slim”, thus paving the way for America to take control of the superyacht.
Justice Kumar also accepted that keeping the Amadea moored in Fiji was costing the government dearly.
“The fact that US authorities have undertaken to pay costs incurred by the Fijian government is totally irrelevant,” he said.
“The Amadea sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States of America.”
Today, with authorization from the Fijian High Court and under a new flag, the Amadea set sail for the United States after having been seized as the proceeds of criminal evasion of US sanctions against Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/JHiYUDKcmQ
— Anthony Coley (@AnthonyColeyDOJ) June 7, 2022
Within two hours of the ruling, US officials had commandeered the vessel out of Lautoka, potentially to avoid any further legal issues.
US Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said on Twitter that the yacht was headed for the States.
“Today, with authorization from the Fijian High Court and under a new flag, the Amadea set sail for the United States after having been seized as the proceeds of criminal evasion of US sanctions against Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov,” he wrote.
“The United States is deeply grateful to the Fijian police and prosecutors whose perseverance and dedication to the rule of law made this action possible.”
Unresolved questions over money laundering and legal ownership of the Amadea will be decided in US waters after the FBI initially linked the superyacht to Kerimov using codenames and the purchase of items such as a pizza oven and spa bed.
Our last coverage on this development was last week, which you can read here.