Support our mission
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on Feb. 21, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on Feb. 21, 2022. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Amadea, a $325 million megayacht tied to Russian lawmaker and gold billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, won’t be leaving the South Pacific island nation of Fiji anytime soon.

A Fijian court has ordered the detainment of the luxury vessel, preventing it from leaving the territory while authorities work with the U.S. to formally seize it. A court in Fiji on Thursday set a hearing for April 25 regarding the registration of the U.S. warrant to seize the vessel, according to a media liaison in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Fiji is detaining the 348-foot-long superyacht after it received a formal request for mutual legal assistance from the U.S. government, according to the public prosecutions office. The application to prevent the yacht from leaving was made on April 19 and the restraining order was granted the same day. Amadea arrived in the Fijian port of Lautoka on April 12 after an 18-day journey from Mexico, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

If seized, the Amadea will be among more than a dozen multimillion dollar megayachts rounded up by Western governments to punish tycoons with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S., U.K. and European Union have levied sanctions on oligarchs and those accused of enabling Moscow’s war in Ukraine, and Western governments are pursuing their yachts, planes and villas.

“We have imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs who are financing Putin’s war and we will continue to act with our allies and partners around the world in imposing costs on the Kremlin if it continues its war of choice,” the U.S. Embassy in Fiji said in a statement. “We continue to ratchet up the pressure on Putin’s oligarchs and we are working with allies and partners to go after corrupt gains from some of the individuals closest to Putin, no matter where they are held around the world.”

Germany last week impounded Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s superyacht Dilbar, valued at as much as $750 million. Italian authorities arrested a 530-million-euro ($578 million) vessel owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, while Spain seized Viktor Vekselberg’s $90 million Tango as well as the $600 million Crescent believed to belong to Igor Sechin, head of Moscow-based Rosneft Oil Co.

Kerimov was sanctioned by the U.K. and the EU March 15. The U.S. placed him on its sanctions list in 2018 for being an official of the government of the Russian Federation. French prosecutors had accused him of laundering money obtained via tax fraud in deals to buy four villas on the Côte d’Azur worth hundreds of millions of euros. He beat money-laundering charges in France in 2018.

Kerimov is worth about $14.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His family holds a 46% stake in Polyus, the biggest gold producer in Russia.

Kerimov’s Amadea, which features a helipad, mosaic-tiled pool and live lobster tank, had been moored off the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten for more than two months when it began moving west on March 12 through the Panama Canal, according to vessel-tracking data analyzed by Bloomberg News. From there, it headed northwest to Mexico, where it arrived at the port in Manzanillo on the country’s west coast on March 24. It left the next day for Fiji.

There was speculation its journey placed it closer to the port of Vladivostok on Russia’s east coast, where at least one other Russian megayacht, Alexey Mordashov’s Nord, made its destination as sanctions rolled in.

Authorities in Fiji were reported to be baffled by Amadea’s arrival as it hadn’t sought the necessary permits, according to local media. The Fiji Revenue & Customs Service issued two infringement notices to the captain for failure to comply with arrival and disembarkation procedures, according to the Fiji Times.

The actions by the U.S. and its allies have scattered Russian yachts to locales perceived as less likely to seize the pleasure craft, including parts of the Middle East and the Caribbean, according to space-based analytics and data firm Spire Global Inc. Megayachts owned by Russians account for as much as 10% of the global fleet, according to industry watcher The Super Yacht Group.

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up