Fiji Court Gives Nod For U.S. To Seize Russian Superyacht
The US won a legal battle to seize a Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, and spent no time taking custody of the $325 million vessel and sailing it away from the South Pacific nation, Nick Perry reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: The Judiciary of Fiji
The court decision was a significant victory for the United States, which has been struggling to collect the assets of Russian billionaires around the world. While many people opposed to the war in Ukraine applaud these initiatives, some of them have pushed the boundaries of American jurisdiction abroad. The Supreme Court of Fiji removed a stay order that had blocked the United States from seizing the superyacht Amadea.
The prospects of defense lawyers bringing an appeal that the Supreme Court would hear were "zero to very slim," according to Chief Justice Kamal Kumar.
It wasn't immediately apparent where the US intended to take the Amadea, which the FBI has tied to Russian businessman Suleiman Kerimov. Unresolved questions of money laundering and ownership of the Amadea, according to Fiji Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde, must be decided in the United States.
The US removed the yacht from the area within an hour or two of the court's decision, probably to avoid any further legal action. The FBI linked the Amadea to the Kerimov family in court records, citing their alleged use of code names aboard and the purchase of goods like a pizza oven and a spa bed. Task Force KleptoCapture, which was created in March to take the assets of Russian oligarchs in order to put pressure on Russia to halt the war, targeted the ship.
Kumar agreed that keeping the superyacht berthed in Lautoka harbor was costing the Fijian government a lot of money.
“The fact that US authorities have undertaken to pay costs incurred by the Fijian government is totally irrelevant,” the judge found. He said the Amadea “sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States of America.”