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14 Feb, 2024 16:40

US spending $7mn a year on seized Russian yacht 

The luxury vessel worth $300 million was arrested in Fiji in 2022   
US spending $7mn a year on seized Russian yacht 

The US government is spending more than $7 million a year to maintain a superyacht it seized from a sanctioned Russian businessman and that it is now seeking to sell, a court filing from Friday showed.  

The yacht, named ‘Amadea’, is believed to be owned by sanctioned Russian multibillionaire Suleiman Kerimov. It was seized in Fiji in April 2022 at the request of the US Department of Justice under sanctions imposed in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.  

Kerimov and his family are worth $10.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine.   

The 348-foot-long (106-meter) vessel, which has a helicopter pad, swimming pool, fire pits, and a movie theater, costs American taxpayers $600,000 a month to maintain, according to the US authorities.    

Crew expenses alone run some $360,000 a month, while the upkeep of the luxury boat also requires $75,000 for fuel and $165,000 for maintenance, waste removal, food and other expenses, according to court papers.   

The US is now requesting a judge’s permission to auction off the $300 million superyacht as the average monthly maintenance bill has been “excessive.”  

Meanwhile, efforts to sell the ‘Amadea’ are being challenged by Russian businessman Eduard Khudainatov, who claims that he is its actual owner. Whereas the US has identified Kerimov as the owner and claims he violated sanctions by making payments through the US financial system, Khudainatov, who chaired oil major Rosneft from 2010 to 2013, maintains that he is the actual owner of the Amadea and insists that the yacht cannot be confiscated because he has not been sanctioned by the US.   

US prosecutors alleged in previous court filings that Khudainatov was acting as the Amadea’s “straw owner” to disguise Kerimov’s role.   

Legal representatives for Khudainatov said in a statement that the seizure was “unlawful” and urged the judge to disallow it until it is determined “whether the seizure was unconstitutional.”

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