Confusion over which Russian oligarch owns Fiji luxury yacht

Boat captain Emosi Dawai looks at the superyacht Amadea where it is docked at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji, on 13 April, 2022.
Boat captain Emosi Dawai looks at the superyacht Amadea where it is docked at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji, on 13 April, 2022. Copyright Leon Lord/Fiji Sun via AP
By Euronews with AP
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A judge in the capital Suva must rule between two different oligarchs to determine whether the yacht can be seized — as only one of them is subject to sanctions.


A judge in Fiji is due to rule next week on whether American authorities can seize the luxurious superyacht Amadea — worth some $325 million (€308 million) — which has been stopped from leaving the South Pacific nation because of its links to Russia.

But a vital question remains over which oligarch really owns the Amadea, because only of the two possible candidates faces sanctions.

Is the real owner Suleiman Kerimov? That's what the US claims.

Kerimov, an economist and former Russian politician, was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for alleged money laundering and has faced further sanctions from Canada, Europe and Britain after Russia invaded Ukraine. Kerimov made a fortune investing in Russian gold producer Polyus, with Forbes magazine putting his net worth at $14.5 billion (€13.77 billion).

Or is the real owner Eduard Khudainatov? That’s what defence lawyers claim.

Khudainatov is the former chairman and chief executive of Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian oil and gas company. Crucially, Khudainatov currently does not appear to face any sanctions, unlike many oligarchs and people with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have been sanctioned since the war began.

Ownership hidden behind shell companies

As with many superyachts, determining the real ownership of the Amadea is difficult due to the shadowy trail of trusts and shell companies. On paper, the superyacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and owned by Millemarin Investments Ltd., also based in the Cayman Islands.

Defence lawyers have claimed in court that Millemarin Investments Ltd. is the legal owner of the vessel and that the company is linked to the real, or beneficial, owner, Khudainatov. But US authorities have claimed that behind all the various fronts, the real owner is Kerimov.

On 19 April, after the yacht had sailed into Fiji from Mexico, the High Court in Suva ordered that the Amadea not leave Fiji until the merits of the US warrant to seize the vessel were determined. Perhaps reflecting the question over ownership, the court later ordered Fijian prosecutors to amend an original summons which named just Kerimov also to include Millemarin Investments Ltd. as a second respondent to the case.

For now, the yacht continues to sit in a Fijian harbour with its crew of about 25 rotating on and off the vessel, while a police officer remains on board to ensure it stays put.

The US Embassy in Suva said in a statement that the US was acting with allies and partners around the world to impose costs on Russia because of its "war of choice".

“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," the embassy said.

Leon Lord/Fiji Sun via AP
The superyacht Amadea is docked at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji, on 15 April, 2022Leon Lord/Fiji Sun via AP

What's it like on board the superyacht Amadea?

According to Boat International, the Amadea is 106 metres long and was built in 2017 by a German company.

It's described as being "one of the most private and exclusive superyachts in the world with a highly-kept secret layout and interior".

Amadea features eight cabins across six decks, including private lounges with fire pits, dining areas, bar and a 10-metre infinity pool. There's an onboard spa that offers hammam treatments, an outdoor cinema, and a live lobster tank in the galley -- plus a large helicopter landing pad.

The owner's apartment has it's own bar, gym, private office, beauty room, a state room with fire pit, His and Her dressing and bathrooms and a private jacuzzi.

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