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The US government is pushing to auction a superyacht previously owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch due to the “excessive” maintenance costs exceeding $7 million annually.
The 348-foot Amadea, worth $300 million, was seized in Fiji in May 2022 following a US warrant that links the vessel to Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2014 and 2018 for activities related to Russia’s involvement in Syria and Ukraine.
The legal battle over the yacht’s fate has intensified as Eduard Khudainatov, former head of Russian state oil company Rosneft and claimed owner of the Amadea, contests its forfeiture. Khudainatov believes the yacht cannot be forfeited since he has not been sanctioned. Prosecutors counter this claim, suggesting Khudainatov serves as a “straw owner” to conceal Kerimov’s involvement, emphasizing the importance of maintenance to preserve the yacht’s value. Despite attempts for dialogue regarding the yacht’s expenses, prosecutors note that talks with Khudainatov have “broken down.”
Khudainatov’s legal team has until February 23 to respond to the auction request, labeling the motion to sell the vessel as “premature” and advocating for Judge Ho to reject it until the constitutionality of the seizure is determined.
This comes on the backdrop of US sanctions targeting close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to US officials, the sanctions aim to exert pressure on Putin due to his war in Ukraine.