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Fiji seizes Russian oligarch’s $421 million superyacht

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A $US300 million ($421 million) superyacht owned by a Russian Oligarch has been seized by Fijian authorities at the request of the US.

The US Department of Justice announced on Thursday that the 106-metre luxury vessel, Amadea – believed to be owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Sulieman Kerimov – had been confiscated in Lautoka, Fiji.

Fijian authorities, along with members of the US Marshals and FBI, boarded the yacht to seize it from private hands after US prosecutors issued a warrant and sought support from the Pacific Islands nation.

The yacht had been subject to legal proceedings since it mysteriously arrived in Fiji in mid-April, as the vessel’s owners tried to prevent US prosecutors from registering a warrant.

“The Amadea is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of US law,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement on Friday (Australian time).

The Amadea has been moored in the Fijian port of Lautoka for nearly a month. Photo: US Department of Justice

This included violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and suspected acts of money laundering and conspiracy.

The yacht was seized as part of the US operation KleptoCapture, a task force charged with locating and seizing the wealth of sanctioned oligarchs and Vladimir Putin allies.

“Fijian law enforcement, with the support and assistance of the FBI, acted pursuant to a mutual legal assistance request from the US Department of Justice,” the Department of Justice said.

On paper, the superyacht is owned by an investment company from the Cayman Islands. But the Department of Justice says, “according to court documents, Kerimov owned the Amadea.”

The US court also designated Mr Kerimov as among those Russian oligarchs who profit from Moscow through corruption and its malign activity around the globe, including the occupation of Crimea.

Mr Kerimov has been sanctioned by Australia, the US, Britain and the European Union over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This yacht seizure should tell every corrupt Russian oligarch that they cannot hide – not even in the remotest part of the world,” US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

“We will use every means of enforcing the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine,” she said.

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