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US seeks to seize $300 million superyacht owned by billionaire Russian oligarch, per Reuters.

US Moves to Forfeit Russian Oligarch’s $300 Million Superyacht

US Seeks Forfeiture of Superyacht Owned by Russian Oligarch

The United States has filed a complaint in federal court, seeking the forfeiture of a $300 million superyacht allegedly controlled by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. Kerimov, who is under US sanctions, is accused of using the yacht, named Amadea, to violate these sanctions. The vessel was seized by authorities in Fiji in May 2022 and is currently docked in San Diego.

A Long Judicial Process Ahead

The complaint filed in Manhattan marks the beginning of a potentially lengthy legal battle, as the US aims to take ownership of the yacht and eventually auction it off, with the proceeds going to Ukraine. Kerimov, whose fortune is estimated at $10.7 billion, has been subject to US sanctions since 2014 and 2018 due to his alleged involvement in Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine.

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Accusations of Sanctions Violations

In the complaint, the US Department of Justice claims that Kerimov purchased the Amadea in 2021 and subsequently violated sanctions by making substantial maintenance payments through US financial institutions. The owners of the yacht will have the opportunity to contest this claim in court.

The Complex Ownership Saga

The ownership of the Amadea has been a subject of dispute. Lawyers representing Millemarin Investments, the alleged owner of the yacht, argued in a Fiji court that it actually belongs to former Rosneft chief Eduard Khudainatov, an unsanctioned Russian oligarch. However, the complaint does not mention Khudainatov and instead focuses on the alleged attempts to obscure the true ownership of the vessel.

US Prosecutors Allege Deception

US prosecutors assert that a transaction in September 2021, which transferred ownership of the yacht from Millemarin to a newly incorporated company called Errigan Marine, was a deliberate attempt to make it appear as if the yacht was owned by Evgeny Kochman, the president of Imperial Yachts, a yacht broker that is sanctioned by the US. Prosecutors argue that Kochman was merely a “straw owner” and that the vessel was unlawfully seized.

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It remains to be seen how this legal battle will unfold and what the ultimate fate of the Amadea will be.

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