Russian superyacht Amadea arrives in Honolulu from Fiji

Russian-owned superyacht linked to Putin’s oligarch friend Suleiman Kerimov arrives in Hawaii under US flag days after FBI won legal battle to seize the $325m vessel in Fiji

  • Russian-owned superyacht Amadea arrived in Honolulu Harbor flying a US flag on Thursday  
  • The U.S. last week won a legal battle in Fiji to take the $325 million vessel and immediately sailed it to Hawaii
  • FBI has linked the Amadea to the sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov
  • Lawyers insist that it is actually owned by another Russian who is not under sanctions
  • The 348-foot-long vessel features a live lobster tank, hand-painted piano, swimming pool and helipad 

A $325 million superyacht rumored to be owned by one of Vladimir Putin’s Russian oligarch cronies has arrived in Hawaii after being seized by the FBI in Fiji. 

The Amadea arrived in Hawaii on Thursday after the US last week won a legal battle in Fiji to seize the vessel, and immediately set sail to avoid further court battles. 

The FBI has linked the Amadea to the Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. The U.S. said Kerimov secretly bought the Cayman Island-flagged vessel last year through various shell companies.

The ship became a target of Task Force KleptoCapture, launched in March to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs to put pressure on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

An even larger yacht called the Scheherazade which is believed to be owned by Putin himself was blocked from leaving an Italian shipyard last month as part of a similar assets seizure program.

The FBI said a search warrant in Fiji turned up emails showing that Kerimov’s children were aboard the ship this year and that the crew used code names – G0 for Kerimov, G1 for his wife, G2 for his daughter and so on.

The 348-foot-long vessel, about the length of a football field, features a live lobster tank, a hand-painted piano, a swimming pool and a large helipad.

The superyacht Amadea is moored in Honolulu on Thursday. The Russian-owned superyacht seized by the United States arrived in Honolulu Harbor flying an American flag after the U.S. last week won a legal battle in Fiji

The FBI has linked the Amadea to the Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. The U.S. said Kerimov secretly bought the Cayman Island-flagged vessel last year through various shell companies 

The FBI has linked the Amadea to the Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov (left, with Putin in 2019). The U.S. said Kerimov secretly bought the Cayman Island-flagged vessel last year through various shell companies

The Scheherazade yacht, pictured, is believed to be owned by Vladimir Putin himself, and was banned from leaving an Italian shipyard in May  

Lawyer Feizal Haniff, who represented Millemarin Investments, the owner on paper, had argued the owner was another wealthy Russian who, unlike Kerimov, doesn´t face sanctions.

The U.S. Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force has focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets of Russian oligarchs in a bid to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.

The 106-meter yacht left Fiji’s Lautoka port last week after the Pacific island nation’s Supreme Court ruled the yacht should leave the country because it was costly for the government to maintain it.

It had arrived in Fiji, where it was seized, on April 13 after an 18-day voyage from Mexico. 

The FBI said in an affidavit that the vessel turned off its automated information systems on February 24, almost immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine, as part of an effort to avoid seizure.

Lawyers for the Amadea’s owner, Cayman Islands-registered Millemarin Investment Ltd, told a Fiji court that the Amadea was not owned by Kerimov but by another Russian oligarch who has not been sanctioned, the former Rosneft chief Eduard Khudainatov.

The 348-foot-long vessel, about the length of a football field, features a live lobster tank, a hand-painted piano, a swimming pool and a large helipad 

The superyacht Amadea is moored in Honolulu on Thursday after the U.S. last week won a legal battle in Fiji to take the $325 million vessel

Kerimov was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and 2018 in response to Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine. He has also been sanctioned by the European Union 

The United States alleges Kerimov is the Amadea’s true beneficial owner, but much of the evidence in the April 13 seizure warrant is redacted in the version released to the public.

Kerimov was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and 2018 in response to Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine. He has also been sanctioned by the European Union.

The Amadea previously sailed under the Cayman Islands flag, according to public shipping database Equasis. Eikon data showed it arrived in Hawaii flying the U.S. flag.

In early May, the Justice Department issued a statement saying the Amadea had been seized in Fiji, but that turned out to be premature after lawyers appealed.

And at the time, it wasn’t immediately clear where the U.S. intended to sail the Amadea to.

Fiji Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde said unresolved questions of money laundering and the ownership of the Amadea need to be decided in the U.S.

‘The decision acknowledges Fiji’s commitment to respecting international mutual assistance requests and Fiji´s international obligations,’ Pryde said.

The Amadea, pictured in April, was docked at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji, before it was hauled away by the U.S. government in May after Fiji authorities relinquished the rights to the ship 

In court documents, the FBI linked the Amadea to the Kerimov family through their alleged use of code names while aboard and the purchase of items such as a pizza oven and a spa bed.

The department said it found a text message on a crew member’s phone saying, ‘We’re not going to Russia’ followed by a ‘shush’ emoji.

The U.S. acknowledged that paperwork appeared to show Khudainatov was the owner but said he was also the paper owner of a second and even larger superyacht, the Scheherazade, which has been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Khudainatov is the former chairman and chief executive of Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian oil and gas company.

The U.S. questioned whether Khudainatov could really afford two superyachts worth a total of more than $1 billion.


The FBI has linked the vessel to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov (left), who faces sanctions over his country’s invasion of Ukraine, but lawyers for the paper owner of the yacht claimed it belonged to Russian billionaire Eduardo Khudainatov (right), who is not under U.S. sanction

‘The fact that Khudainatov is being held out as the owner of two of the largest superyachts on record, both linked to sanctioned individuals, suggests that Khudainatov is being used as a clean, unsanctioned straw owner to conceal the true beneficial owners,’ the FBI wrote in a court affidavit.

Court documents say the Amadea switched off its transponder soon after Russia invaded Ukraine and sailed from the Caribbean through the Panama Canal to Mexico, arriving with over $100,000 in cash.

It then sailed thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean to Fiji.

Source: Read Full Article