February 21, 2024
The superyacht Amadea docked in Honolulu in 2022. REUTERS/Marco Garcia

The Justice Division on Monday sought the forfeiture of a $300 million superyacht docked in San Diego that’s believed to be managed by billionaire Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who’s underneath U.S. sanctions.

Authorities in Fiji seized the 348-foot Amadea pursuant to a U.S. warrant in Could 2022 as Washington ramped up sanctions enforcement in opposition to folks near Russian President Vladimir Putin, to strain Moscow to halt its conflict in opposition to Ukraine.

Monday’s grievance, filed in federal court docket in Manhattan, kicks off a doubtlessly lengthy judicial course of through which the USA would search possession of the yacht, after which possible public sale it and switch proceeds to Ukraine.

Kerimov and his household are value $10.7 billion, in response to Forbes journal.

He amassed a lot of his wealth by a stake in Russian gold producer Polyus. Kerimov was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Division in 2014 and 2018 in response to Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine. These sanctions barred Kerimov from accessing the U.S. monetary system.

Polyus was sanctioned in Could 2023. The corporate mentioned the sanctions have been unfounded.

In Monday’s grievance, the U.S. Division of Justice mentioned Kerimov purchased the Amadea in 2021, after which violated U.S. sanctions by making greater than $1 million in upkeep funds by U.S. monetary establishments.

The yacht’s house owners can have the possibility to contest that declare in court docket.

Kerimov couldn’t instantly be reached for remark.

Legal professionals for the Amadea’s proprietor, Millemarin Investments, advised a Fiji court docket final 12 months that the Amadea was owned not by Kerimov however by former Rosneft chief Eduard Khudainatov, a Russian oligarch who has not been sanctioned.

Khudainatov will not be named in Monday’s grievance.

U.S. prosecutors mentioned a Sept. 14, 2021, transaction transferring possession of the Amadea from Millemarin to a newly included firm, Errigan Marine, was designed to make it seem that Evgeny Kochman, the president of sanctioned yacht dealer Imperial Yachts, owned the yacht.

Prosecutors mentioned Kochman was, the truth is, solely a “straw proprietor.”

Khudainatov sued the USA on Monday in federal court docket in San Diego to launch the yacht, in response to a replica of the grievance offered by his lawyer, Adam Ford. Reuters couldn’t instantly find the authorized papers on-line.

“The Amadea was seized upon false premises pushed by political motivation,” Ford mentioned in an announcement.