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Fiji court rules US can seize $325m superyacht believed to be owned by Russian oligarch

Fijian judge has ruled that US authorities may seize a Russian-owned superyacht valued at $325m (PS260m).

Because of its Russian connections, the Amadea was previously prevented from leaving South Pacific country.

It is unclear which of the two Russian oligarchs actually owns this luxury vessel. Only one of them faces sanctions.

There have been questions about whether the US has any jurisdiction over Fiji.

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After the US had previously filed a warrant, Justice Deepthi Amaratunga of the Suva High Court granted an order to allow the US to seize superyacht.

But not immediately.

Defense lawyers have until Friday to submit their challenge.

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The judge will decide if the yacht’s seizure should be continued in the interim.

Boat International states that the Amadea measures 106m in length and was constructed in 2017.

It has a stainless-steel albatross at the bow, a galley with a live lobster tank, a pool of 10m (33ft), a Pleyel piano, and a large helicopter pad.

Image: The boat measures 106m long and features a pool of 10m and a helipad. Pic by AP

In March, the US Justice Department announced that a team federal agents and prosecutors was created to pursue wealthy Russians and those who aid Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

Task Force KleptoCapture was formed to seize assets owned by oligarchs in order to press Russia to end the war.

Suleiman Kerimov is the US’s real owner of Amadea, the US claim.

In 2018, the US sanctioned the economist and ex-Russian politician for money laundering. Canada, Europe and other countries have also placed sanctions on him.

Mr Kerimov made a fortune by investing in Russian gold producer Polyus. Forbes magazine put his net worth at $14.5bn, or PS11.6bn.

Defense lawyers argue that Eduard Khudainatov is the true owner of Rosneft. This Russian state-controlled oil and gas company is the former chairman, chief executive and president.

At the moment, Mr Khudainatov does not appear to be facing sanctions. This is contrary to many oligarchs, and people with close connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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