Published on :
Suva (Fiji) (AFP) – Authorities in Fiji have seized, at the request of the United States, a superyacht suspected of belonging to a Russian oligarch targeted by sanctions linked to the war in Ukraine, the United States Department of Justice announced on Thursday.
The Amadea ship, estimated at 325 million dollars, belongs, according to Washington, to the businessman and deputy Suleiman Kerimov, targeted by European and American sanctions.
According to Washington, Mr. Kerimov made his fortune from his stakes in major Russian energy and financial firms, including Gazprom and Sberbank.
Moored in Lautoka, in western Fiji, since mid-April, the Amadea had been immobilized by the Fijian authorities since the issuance of a US seizure warrant. On Tuesday, a local court had ordered its seizure, which took place in stride.
The request to seize the Amadea is based on the fact that it “would violate United States law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and conspiracy”, said Thursday the US Department in a statement.
Mr Kerimov is part of a group of oligarchs “who take advantage of the Russian government through corruption and its malign activities around the world, including the occupation of Crimea”, he added.
The Amadea measures 107 meters, has a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a helipad and a “winter garden” on the deck, according to the specialized site superyachtfan.com.
“There is no hiding place for the assets of criminals who support the Russian regime,” US Justice Minister Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Justice will work tirelessly to hold accountable those who facilitate the death and destruction we are witnessing in Ukraine,” he added.
“They Can’t Hide”
“This seizure shows the corrupt Russian oligarchs that they cannot hide, even in the most remote places of the world”, commented for her part the number two of the American ministry of Justice, Lisa Monaco. “Every yacht bought with dirty money is in our sights,” she said.
Several specialized sites indicate that Kerimov is the owner, but this could not be independently confirmed by AFP.
A company registered as the owner of the boat, Millemarin Investment, requested a stay of execution of this seizure, pending a decision on appeal. The High Court of the Fiji Islands refused this request.
According to media from the archipelago, the yacht should head for the United States in the coming days.
In the published copy of the US warrant, the section listing the various elements suggesting that Mr. Kerimov is the true owner of the yacht has been partially redacted.
She mentions that the ownership of the Amadea was transferred to Millemarin Investment in August 2021.
The US warrant says Fijian authorities searched the vessel last month and found “numerous” financial documents related to the Amadea. Transaction details have been hidden. Official documents indicated that after Fiji, he was to go to the Philippines.
“However, there is reason to believe that the intended destination was, in fact, Vladivostok or other Russian territorial waters,” according to the warrant.
Spain had already seized in April, at the request of the United States, a superyacht worth 90 million dollars, belonging to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Washington announced in March the creation of a cell dedicated to the prosecution of “corrupt Russian oligarchs” and all those who violate the sanctions adopted by Washington against Moscow.
Since then, the Americans have “sanctioned and blocked ships and planes worth more than a billion, as well as freezing hundreds of millions of dollars of assets of Russian elites in American accounts”, according to the House. White.
President Joe Biden hopes to be able to liquidate these assets and use the money to compensate for the damage Ukraine has suffered.
© 2022 AFP