A Russian-owned superyacht docked in Fiji has left for the United States after a Fiji court ordered its removal, saying it was a waste of money to maintain amid legal wrangling over its seizure.
Fiji’s Supreme Court lifted a stay order which had prevented the US from seizing the superyacht Amadea.
A US Justice Department’s Taskforce has focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets of Russian oligarchs in a bid to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.
- READ MORE: Graham Davis: Behind the saga of the ‘seized’ Russian super yacht Amadea
- Other Amadea reports
The 106m Amadea arrived in Fiji on April 13 after an 18-day voyage from Mexico.
It was seized by Fiji authorities after the country’s High Court granted a US warrant last month that linked the yacht to sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.
The FBI has said the US$300 million luxury vessel had running costs of $25 million to $30 million per year, and the United States would pay to maintain the vessel after it was seized.
However, Fiji’s government has been footing the bill while an appeal by the vessel’s registered owner, Millemarin Investments, worked its way through the country’s courts.
Ordered to ‘sail out of Fiji’
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that public interest demanded the yacht “sail out of Fiji waters”, because having it berthed in Fiji was “costing the Fijian government dearly,” according to the judgment.
The vessel “sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States,” it added.
Anthony Coley, a spokesperson for the US Justice Department, posted on Twitter that the Amadea set sail for the United States on Tuesday “after having been seized as the proceeds of criminal evasion of US sanctions against Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov.”
The United States alleged Kerimov beneficially owned the Amadea, although lawyers for the vessel had denied this and told the court it was owned by another Russian oligarch, Eduard Khudainatov, the former chief of Russian energy giant Rosneft, who had not been sanctioned.
Last month, another luxury yacht reportedly owned by Khudainatov worth some $700 million was impounded by police in Italy.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.
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