A super yacht that authorities say is owned by a Russian oligarch previously sanctioned for money laundering has been seized by law enforcement agencies in Fiji, the State Department announced Thursday.
A judge in Fiji allowed US authorities this week to seize the yacht Amadea — valued at $325 million — though temporarily suspended the order while defense attorneys file their appeal.
The Justice Department said authorities in Fiji, at the request of the United States, executed a search warrant freezing the yacht, which was previously barred from leaving the South Pacific nation.
US officials say the yacht is owned by Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian economist and former politician sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018 and who has faced censorship from Canada, Europe, Britain and others following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Kerimov made his fortune investing in Russian gold producer Polyus, and Forbes magazine puts his net worth at $15.5 billion.
Defense lawyers say the yacht belongs to another Russian oligarch.
In a document supporting the search warrant, the FBI wrote that there was probable cause to believe that Kerimov had owned the Amadea since 2021. The ship, which is flagged for the Cayman Islandshad turned off its automated information system on February 24, the day Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
The Justice Department said the seizure was coordinated by its KleptoCapture task force, created in March to seize assets belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs. In April, the department seized a luxury yacht in Spain owned by Viktor Vekselberg, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the new seizure “should make it clear that there is no place where the assets of individuals who violate US law can be hidden. And there is no place to hide the assets of criminals who help the Russian regime.”
The Justice Department said that the yacht is now in Lautoka, Fiji.