After much back and forth, Fiji handed the “Amadea” over to the United States. The ship is now docked in San Diego after a long voyage, and authorities have announced an imminent sale. In the end, the former owner gave himself away.
The American Department of Justice reports the success via Twitter: After a long journey, the “Amadea” is on the American coast. It reads: “After a voyage across the Pacific Ocean of more than 5,000 miles, the Amadea has docked safely in a United States port and remains in the care of the United States Government pending its anticipated confiscation and sale.” Her former owner, Suleiman Kerimov, apparently has no chance of saving his ship.
The “Amadea” has so far the most exciting story since the introduction of sanctions against the Russian financial elite. As the international hunt for the ships of the oligarchs gradually picked up speed, the captain of the “Amadea” switched off the position sensor. Apparently the owner Kerimov wanted to hide his ship from the world.
Escape via Fiji failed
The multi-billionaire, who is said to have deep connections in Russian politics, ended up on the US sanctions list years ago for suspected money laundering. In the course of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU put him in the penalty box because he is also counted among Putin’s inner circle in this country and his wealth comes from dealings with the government.
However, the Russian did not reckon with Fiji, which, in cooperation with the United States, detained his ship shortly after arriving at the Lautoka container port. A dispute broke out in court, the lawyer behind the “Amadea” stated that Kerimov was not the owner and sent the unsanctioned oligarch Eduard Yuryevich Khudainatow.
In fact, he initially had good cards, because identifying the owner of such a luxury yacht without a doubt is a mammoth project, depending on the number of upstream letterbox companies. As “CBS” reports, however, Kerimov revealed himself through orders for the crew.
Emails with orders discovered – by the owner
In the crew’s emails and the yacht’s computers, the FBI found instructions from Kerimov to get a new pizza oven, a new bed, and extra-fast jet skis. That was enough for the court to agree with the United States and allow the confiscation – also because the “Amadea” had sailed into the waters of the island state without permission and they didn’t want to be seen as a hiding place for sanctioned oligarchs, it said. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are currently making their mark as safe havens for this purpose.
Prior to the Fiji verdict, there were already attempts by the United States to bring the ship to the United States. Once the trip was thwarted by a mutiny by the crew, who were unwilling to help the authorities cast off for fear of reprisals from the yachting industry.
Also read: Mutiny on the “Amadea”: the yacht crew refuses to help with the confiscation
In the end it should take around two months until the yacht reaches the USA and now its future will be decided. It currently looks as if the ship will go under the hammer and be sold to the highest bidder. This makes the “Amadea” the second yacht to be snatched from its former owner – a few days after the “Axioma”.
$25 million in maintenance costs per year
The “Amadea” was built by Lürssen in 2017 and is 106 meters long. The ship can accommodate 18 guests and a crew of 36. The cost is said to be around $300 million. There are plenty of amenities: the ship offers a large pool, a helipad, a whirlpool, a winter garden, marble floors and velvet carpets. The authorities put the annual operating costs at around 25 million US dollars. It was not revealed whether the new pizza oven and the speedy wave mopeds were already included in the purchase or were never delivered.
Sources: Business Insider, Washington Post, Justice.gov, Treasury.gov, European Parliament