Fiji’s government seized a massive $325 million yacht owned by a Russian oligarch at the request of the United States, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
The 348-Amadea, owned by Suleiman Kerimov, an alleged money launderer sanctioned by the US in 2018 as one of several oligarchs who profited from the Kremlin “through corruption and its malign activities around the globe, including the occupation of Crimea,” the DOJ said.
“This ruling should make clear that there is no hiding place for the assets of individuals who violate U.S. laws,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
“And there is no hiding place for the assets of criminals who enable the Russian regime. The Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to hold accountable those who facilitate the death and destruction we are witnessing in Ukraine.”
The wealthy Russian benefited from the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin and played a “key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities,” an affidavit submitted as part of the seizure warrant said. He allegedly funneled US money through American financial institutions to fund the superyacht while under sanction without required licenses, the US said.
The yacht has annual running costs between $25 million and $30 million, the DOJ estimates.
Kerimov is a former economist and politician whose net worth is $14.5 billion, according to Forbes. Attorneys have contended the oligarch didn’t own the superyacht – but US officials believe he has owned the ship since 2021.
Although official paperwork said the ship planned to head to the Philippines next, authorities believe its actual intended destination was Russian waters — where the luxury vessel could avoid US seizure.
The Amadea’s automated information system was turned off on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.
The seizure was coordinated through the DOJ’s “KleptoCapture” task force, which aims to enforce the US sanctions put in place in response to the war in Ukraine.
The task force also coordinated the seizure of oligarch Viktor Vekselberg’s $90 million, 255-foot Tango in Spain last month.
The Amadea is now in Lautoka, Fiji.
With Post wires