WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) – A judge in Fiji is set to rule on Tuesday whether US authorities can seize the $325 million Amadea luxury yacht, which has been barred from leaving the South Pacific country because of its ties to Russia. .
But a vital question remains as to who really owns the Amadea oligarchy. Only one of two potential candidates faces penalties.
Is the real owner Suleiman Karimov? This is what the United States claims.
Karimov, a former Russian economist and politician, was sanctioned by the United States in 2018 for money laundering, and he faced further sanctions from Canada, Europe and Britain after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Karimov made a fortune investing in Russian gold producer Paulius, for which Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $14.5 billion.
Or is the real owner Eduard Khdianatov? This is what defense lawyers claim.
Khdinatov is the chairman and former CEO of the Russian state-controlled oil and gas company Rosneft. Crucially, Khdianatov does not appear to be currently facing any sanctions, unlike many of the oligarchs and people with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been sanctioned since the war began.
As with many luxury yachts, Amadea’s true ownership is difficult to determine due to the murky path of funds and shell companies. On paper, the luxury yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and owned by Millemarin Investments Ltd. It is also based in the Cayman Islands.
Defense attorneys claimed in court that Millemarin Investments Ltd. (sometimes spelled Millemarine) is the legal owner of the vessel and that the company is related to the true owner or beneficiary, Khudainatov. But the US authorities claimed that the real owner behind all the different fronts is Karimov.
On April 19, after the yacht had sailed to Fiji from Mexico, the Supreme Court of Suva ordered the Amadea not to leave Fiji until the merits of a US warrant to seize the ship had been determined. Perhaps reflecting the question about ownership, the court later ordered Fijian prosecutors to amend the original Karimov-named subpoena to also include Millemarin Investments Ltd. as a second plaintiff in the case.
For now, the yacht still sits in the Fiji port with a crew of 25 rotating on and off the ship, while a police officer remains on board to ensure it stays in place.
According to Boat International, the Amadea is 106 meters long and built in 2017. It features a stainless steel albatross that extends from the bow and weighs more than 5 tons, a live lobster tank in the kitchen, a 10-meter (33-foot) pool, and a bell piano. Hand drawn and large helipad.
The US Embassy in Suva said in a statement that the United States is working with allies and partners around the world to impose costs on Russia for its “war of choice.”
“We continue to escalate pressure on Putin’s oligarchs and work with allies and partners to pursue the corrupt gains of some of the individuals closest to Putin, regardless of where they are held around the world,” the embassy said.
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