The Amadea’s arrival in Honolulu harbor is the result of a lengthy legal battle between the US and Millemarin Investment Limited, the company that legally owns the vessel.
The US alleged the Amadea belonged to Russian gold tycoon Suleiman Kerimov, who was sanctioned in 2018 following Russia’s invasion of Crimea.
The Russian billionaire is believed to have “close ties” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2017, he was accused of laundering hundreds of millions of euros through luxury real estate purchases in France.
But the lawyer representing Millemarin Investment Ltd. argued that the Amadea was actually owned by Russian oil executive Eduard Khudainatov, who is not sanctioned.
For eight weeks, the superyacht remained in Fiji as the two parties battled it out over which Russian oligarch was the boat’s true owner.
It was a legal saga riddled with drama, as CBS News reported. From secret code names to crew members refusing to sail with US officials, getting the boat into US waters was not a simple feat.
Source: Insider, Insider, CBS
The Amadea’s seizure was coordinated through the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture group, a task force put together to track down sanctioned assets following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Although the Russian superyacht is now under US control, the “craziest thing” about its seizure is the boat’s costly upkeep, as Joe Biden’s national security advisor was recorded saying Thursday.
“When we seize one, we have to pay for upkeep,” Sullivan said. “The federal government pays for upkeep … so like some people are basically being paid to maintain Russian superyachts on behalf of the United States government.”
The Amadea’s support and maintenance is reported to cost between $25 million and $30 million a year. Without proper care, the Russian yachts seized by governments around the world could lose 30% of their value.