The federal government said Tuesday that a superyacht owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch and seized in Fiji early last month has arrived in a U.S. port. Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Department
June 27 (UPI) -- A $300 million superyacht U.S. authorities say is owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov docked in a U.S. port on Monday, nearly two months after being seized in Fiji at the request of the United States as it seeks to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and those in his inner circle over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
"After a transpacific journey of over 5,000 miles, the Amadea has safely docked in a port within the United States, and will remain in the custody of the U.S. government, pending its anticipated forfeiture and sale," the Justice Department said in a brief statement.
The 348-foot luxury yacht, named Amadea, was taken possession by Fijian law enforcement in Lautoka in early May through the U.S. Justice Department's Task Force KleptoCapture, which was unveiled in March with the mission to enforce sanctions imposed against Russian oligarchs.
The craft's journey to the United States, however, was delayed several weeks due to legal procedures concerning its ownership as it was registered to Millemarin Investments, which had asked for a stay of execution on the U.S. warrant.
The Fiji high court on June 7 dismissed the firm's application for a stay, permitting it to leave the South Pacific island nation.
"The decision acknowledges Fiji's commitment to respecting international mutual assistance requests and Fiji's international obligations," Christopher Pryde, Fiji's director of public prosecutions, said in a statement. "The court accepted the validity of the U.S. warrant and agreed that issues concerning money laundering and ownership need to be decided in the court of original jurisdiction, in this case, the U.S. District Court of Columbia.
"The Amadea has been handed over to U.S. authorities and will now leave Fiji."
The United States had sanctioned Kerimov in April of 2018 along with six other Russian oligarchs and 12 of their companies as well as 17 senior Russian officials for profiting from Russia's corrupt government, including through Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The Treasury specifically accused Kerimov of being a member of the Russian Federal Council and of laundering tens of millions of Euros into France through the purchase of villas.
The Justice Department has also said Kerimov routed U.S. dollars through U.S. financial institutions to support the maintenance of the yacht.