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Huge cost to hold Russian-linked superyacht

Keeping the US$300 million superyacht Amadea at the Lautoka Wharf is proving very costly for the Fijian government.

The vessel is reportedly owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.

Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, told the court it costs FJ$83,000 (AU$55,000) per day to keep the Amadea at the Lautoka Wharf.

He asked if the matter should be heard expeditiously, and said the superyacht was also blocking traffic at the wharf.

A stay order application filed by legal counsels for the vessel was granted on an interim basis by the Fiji Court of Appeal after an application in the High Court was refused.

The application was filed after the High Court granted orders to register a warrant that was filed by the DPP for the US to seize the superyacht.

The full hearing for a permanent stay is due to take place next week before a full Court of Appeal.

Amadea – Picture: Twitter

Lawyer Feizal Haniff had told the court that the vessel was registered under Millermarim Investments Limited and not Kerimov.

Mr Pride told the court that the matter was urgent and Fiji’s international reputation was at stake.

He said the substantive matter should be heard in the US as their instructions from the US Attorney General were to simply register the warrant.

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He said there was no indication as to how long the stay order granted on Friday would be in effect.

Mr Haniff said he had no objection for the matter to be heard expeditiously.

Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dr. Jayantha de Almeida Guneratne told both parties to file their submissions by Monday.

He said the matter would be heard on Wednesday.

US federal agents boarding the Amadea at the Lautoka wharf. Picture: US Justice Department

In a statement last week, the US Justice Department said Amadea was seized on probable cause of violations of US law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), money laundering and conspiracy.

The Amadea has become the second superyacht to be seized by the US in their pursuit to bring to task Russians who supported Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia found that the Amadea was subject to forfeiture. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Kerimov as part of a group of Russian oligarchs who profit from the Russian government, through corruption and its malign activity around the globe, including the occupation of Crimea.

In sanctioning Kerimov, the Treasury Department also cited Kerimov as an official of the Government of the Russian Federation and a member of the Russian Federation Counsel.

The vessel was seized on April 12 by Fijian authorities as it berthed at Lautoka.

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