The United States is seeking to seize a superyacht suspected of belonging to a Russian oligarch that is docked in the Pacific island nation of Fiji, a restraining order filed on Tuesday by Fiji’s director of public prosecutions showed.
The luxury vessel the Amadea is widely believed to be owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who is the subject of economic sanctions by the United States and European Union imposed in response to Russia’s activities in Syria and Ukraine.
The vessel arrived in Fiji a week ago after leaving Mexico 18 days earlier and crossing the Pacific.
Authorities in various countries have seized luxury vessels and villas owned by Russian billionaires in response to sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a special military operation.
Fiji’s director of public prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, filed an application to the High Court seeking to prevent the Amadea from leaving Fiji.
The application requested “the motor yacht Amadea be restrained from leaving Fijian waters until the finalisation of an application to register a warrant to seize the property and (ii) that a U.S warrant to seize the Amadea be registered”.
The U.S embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but last week said “the United States is committed to finding and seizing the assets of the oligarchs who have supported the Russian Federation’s brutal, unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine”.
Meanwhile, the Suva High Court has granted an order for Russian yacht Amadea to be restrained from leaving Fijian waters.
The second application will be heard in court Thursday.
In another development, the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service has confirmed that there were certain breaches by the crew onboard the Amadea superyacht upon entering Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Chief Executive Mark Dixon said the breach includes the crew leaving the vessel without permission, among other issues.
Dixon told FBC NEWS that the investigation is still underway in conjunction with relevant authorities.
“There were a couple of custom offences that certainly happened and we are dealing with those appropriately through our normal customs laws and regulations and the captain of the yacht has been very positive in accepting the customs offences and we’ll deal with that through appropriate channels.”
The yacht, owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov berthed at the Lautoka Wharf last Wednesday and has been seized by police.
The crew of the Amadea remains on board as the investigation continues.
A superyacht agent in Fiji acting for the Amadea told Reuters last week the vessel’s lawyers were contesting that Suleiman was the owner.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN/FBC NEWS/PACNEWS