Fiji hands over $300m Amadea to US authorities
The Fijian government has handed over the seized $300m superyacht Amadea to US authorities in a move that demonstrates Washington’s 7,767-mile field of influence. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Fiji overturned the High Court’s earlier ruling to allow owner, Millemarin Investments to keep the vessel in Fiji. Amadea will now sail to the US.
Christopher Pryde, director of public prosecutions, said: “The decision acknowledges Fiji’s commitment to respecting international mutual assistance requests and Fiji’s international obligations.”
Chief justice Kamal Kumar, president of Supreme Court, dismissed the appeal from Millemarin Investments to prolong the vessels stay in the Pacific nation.
“The court accepted the validity of the US warrant and agreed that issues concerning money laundering and ownership need to be decided in the court of original jurisdiction, in this case, the US District Court of Columbia. The Amadea has been handed over to US authorities and will now leave Fiji,” said Pryde.
Amadea was initially held under arrest in Fijian waters at the request of the US eight weeks ago. The FBI issued a warrant for the seizure of the yacht on April 13th, after stating that Suleiman Kerimov, who was sanctioned on April 6th 2018, was the beneficial owner.
Delivered by Lürssen in 2017, the 348ft (106m) steel and aluminium motor yacht was last sold in 2021. Imperial was listed as Central Agent by Superyacht Times.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added Imperial Yachts and its CEO Evgeniy Kochman to its sanctions list. In a statement OFAC accuses Imperial Yachts of being a “Kremlin-aligned yacht brokerage.”
Now the vessel has been acquired by US authorities, it could be sold by the U.S Department of Justice if the new law is passed by government. The proposed bill would see seized Russian assets, such as Amadea, sold and proceeds used for humanitarian relief in Ukraine and to support its war effort.
Amadea – The story so far:
June 7th: Supreme Court Ruling
The Supreme Court of Fiji overrules High Court’s judgment, allowing authorities to seize Amadea and take it to the US.
June 1st: The New York Times article
The New York Times publishes its investigation into Imperial Yachts, the management company of Amadea. Evgeniy Kochman, owner and CEO, Imperial Yachts, was added to the international sanctions list the following day.
May 27th: Court of Appeal dismisses appeal
The Court of Appeal dismisses the appeal by Millemarin Investments on the registration of the US warrant to seize Amadea, while upholding the High Court orders granted earlier to Christopher Pryde, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
May 12th: Court of Appeal hears Millemarin’s appeal
Millemarin Investments appeals the ruling of the High Court approving the seizure of the vessel.
May 6th: Suva High Court rejects stay of execution
The Suva High Court in Fiji refused an application by Millemarin Investments for a stay of execution of a US warrant to seize the yacht.
A stay of execution is a court order to suspend the implementation of a court judgment temporarily.
The Court of Appeal granted Millemarin Investments an ex parte application staying the High Court’s orders.
An ex parte is when one party asks the court for an order, such as an order changing a hearing date, without the usual notice to the other parties involved, typically to give them time to prepare an opposition.
May 5th: Amadea yacht seized
Fijian law enforcement seized Amadea following the High Court’s approval of the warrant.
May 3rd: High Court grants warrant
Suva High Court Justice, Deepthi Amaratunga, granted the US warrant to seize the vessel.
Suva High Court gives Pryde (DPP), a day to respond to Millemarin Investments application for an interim stay of execution of the court.
April 25th: Justice Deepthi Amaratunga hears the case in Suva High Court
Pryde (DPP), appears before Suva High Court, requesting Amadea be ordered to remain in Fijian waters.
April 19th: The US formally asks Fiji to seize the yacht
Pryde, (DPP), files a summons in the High Court, asking that the Amadea is stopped from leaving Fiji and asking for the US warrant to be registered.
April 13th: FBI identifies yacht to be owned by sanctioned Suleiman Kerimov
The FBI states that the yacht is owned by sanctioned Russian, Suleiman Kerimov and requests a warrant for the seizure of property subject to forfeiture.
April 6th: Lisa O. Monaco, Deputy Attorney General, delivers remarks on enforcement actions to disrupt and prosecute Russian criminal activity
She said: “As Russia and its aggression continues, we have our eyes on every yacht and jet, we have our eyes on every piece of art and real estate purchased with dirty money and on every Bitcoin wallet, filled with the proceeds of theft and other crimes. Together with our partners around the world, our goal is to ensure that sanctioned Russian oligarchs and cybercriminals will not find safe haven.”
March 2nd: Merrick B. Garland, Attorney General, announces the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture
“The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions,” he said. “We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war. Let me be clear: if you violate our laws, we will hold you accountable.”
February 24th, 2022: Russia invades Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin announces the start of a military campaign in Ukraine. The US, EU, and the UK add high-profile Russian oligarchs and entities to sanction lists.
2021: Amadea sold
April 2018 6th: US Treasury designates Russian oligarchs, officials, and entities to sanctions lists
Kerimov was sanctioned. Steven T. Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, Office of Foreign Assets Control, said “Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilising activities.”
2014: Imperial Yachts advises buyer on the construction of Amadea.