US wins latest legal battle over seizure of Russian yacht in Fiji

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The United States won its latest round of legal action on Friday to seize a $325 million Russian-owned superyacht. Fijithe case now appears in the Pacific nation’s Supreme Court.

The case underscores the thorny legal basis the U.S. has found in its attempt to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs around the world. Those intentions have been welcomed by many governments and citizens opposed to the war in Ukraine, but some actions have raised questions about how far U.S. jurisdiction extends.

Fiji Court of Appeal dismissed appeal on Friday Faizal Hanifhe represents the company that legally owns the superyacht Amadea. Hanif Has argued that the U.S. has no jurisdiction FijiThe Mutual Assistance Act is to seize the ship, at least until a court finds out who actually owns Amadea.

Hanif Say he The case is now planned FijiSupreme Court and will apply for a court order to stop US agents from sailing from Amadea Fiji before hearing an appeal.

As part of its ruling, the appeals court ordered its judgment not to take effect for seven days, presumably to allow time for any appeals.

The United States argues that its investigation found that, in every way, the Cayman Islands-flagged luxury yacht was indeed owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch, economist and former Russian politician Suleiman Kerimov. have.

Klimov made a fortune by investing in Russian gold producers Polius, Forbes magazine puts his net worth at $16 billion. The United States first sanctioned him in 2018 after he was detained in France and accused of money laundering there, and he sometimes arrived with a suitcase full of 20 million euros.

The FBI linked Amadea to the Kerimov family for their alleged use of codenames on the ship and the purchase of items such as a pizza oven and spa beds. The ship was the target of Task Force KleptoCapture, which was launched in March to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs to pressure Russia to end the war.

Measuring about a football field in length, the 106-meter (348-foot) boat features a live lobster tank, a hand-painted piano, a swimming pool and a large helipad.

HanifThose representing paper owner Millemarin Investments believe the owner is Eduard Khudainatov, another wealthy Russian who is not facing sanctions. He is the former chairman and CEO of state-controlled Russian oil and gas company Rosneft.

The U.S. acknowledged that paperwork appeared to indicate Khudainatov was the owner, but said he was also the owner of a second and even larger superyacht, Scheherazade, linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The United States questioned whether Huda Inatov could really afford two superyachts with a combined value of more than $1 billion.

“The fact that Khudainatov is believed to be the owner of the two largest superyachts on record, both linked to sanctioned individuals, suggests that Khudainatov was used as a clean, unapproved straw owner to hide the real Beneficial owner,” the FBI wrote in the court affidavit.

The US claims that Klimov secretly bought Amadea through a shell company last year.The FBI said the search warrant was Fiji The emails that emerged show that Kerimov’s children were on board this year, and the crew used code names — G0 for Kerimov, G1 for his wife, G2 for his daughter and so on.

The FBI said the crew discussed a possible “upcoming G0 guest trip,” noting that he wanted the fastest jet ski – so they’d need to buy a new jet.

In his appeal, Hanif Arguing that the US case was based on rumors and rumours spread by unnamed crew members, there was no evidence that Khudainatov could not afford the investment in the two superyachts.

Yachts still moored in the centrally located port of Lautoka Fijisugarcane area.

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