The United States spends $740 monthly on maintaining the confiscated yacht of a Russian oligarch - ForumDaily
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The US is spending $740 a month to maintain the confiscated yacht of a Russian oligarch

American taxpayers spend about $740 a month on the maintenance and insurance of the luxury yacht Amadea. This superyacht, worth $000 million and almost the length of a football field (230 meters), was arrested by US law enforcement agencies back in 106, reports Voice of America.

Large luxury motor yacht under way out at sea


According to representatives of the US Department of Justice, Amadea belonged to the sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After confiscation yacht they planned to sell it at auction and use the proceeds to restore Ukraine.

However, two years later, the yacht remains at the center of a lengthy legal battle initiated by another Russian oligarch, Eduard Khudainatov. He claims to be the owner of Amadea and is trying to challenge its confiscation by US authorities in court. And while the trial continues, America spends enormous amounts of money on the superyacht - on fuel, maintenance, insurance and crew salaries.

Forbes magazine estimates the fortune of Kerimov and his family at $10,7 billion. He gained a significant portion of his wealth from his stake in the Russian gold mining company Polyus. Sanctions imposed by the United States against Kerimov blocked his access to the country's financial system. In May 2023, the United States imposed sanctions on Polyus.

Port Everett

In April 2024, Amadea arrived in the port of Everett, Washington, where the shipyards in this city were supposed to repair the ship.

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Amadea has a helipad, a swimming pool, a jacuzzi and even a so-called winter garden. Name yachts translated from Latin as “God’s love.”

The US prosecutor's office said that Kerimov violated US sanctions by paying more than $1 million for the yacht's servicing through the American financial system, which led to the confiscation of the vessel.

Fiji authorities seized the 106-metre superyacht under a US warrant in May 2022 as Washington stepped up its enforcement of sanctions against people close to Russian leader Putin, who launched a war in Ukraine.

Looking at the port where Amadea is moored, Everett resident Bob Templeton wonders who pays the huge sums to maintain a superyacht?

“They need to sell it to someone and get a lot of money,” he says with a smile.

It is the question of a potential sale that sounds most acute in the legal disputes surrounding the superyacht, which have been going on for two years and may drag on for a long time. So says former federal prosecutor and civil forfeiture expert Stefan Cassella.

“None of the sanctioned oligarchs own anything that is registered in their name,” he said. According to Cassell, there are many third parties claiming to own the oligarchs' property.

In the meantime, the issue of ownership of the yacht is being discussed in American courts. According to court documents, Amadea costs the US budget more than $600 a month to maintain, not including its insurance costs.

Ownership dispute

Lawyers representing the company that owns Amadea claim that the superyacht belongs to Eduard Khudainatov. The American government does not agree with this and calls Khudainatov the “dummy owner” of the watercraft.

According to prosecutors, Khudainatov is “the actual owner of at least eight yachts or yacht projects,” a fleet worth about $1 billion. Among this property is a yacht, which, according to prosecutors, is actually owned by Putin’s close associate and head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin. Journalists associate one of these superyachts, Scheherazade, with Putin himself.

Khudainatov's lawyers were unable to stop the United States from seizing Amadea, but they are fighting its confiscation case in a New York court. The Department of Justice emphasizes that Kerimov acquired the yacht in 2021, three years after his name appeared on the sanctions list. US prosecutors argue that the oligarch and his accomplices carried out dollar transactions through US financial institutions to maintain the yacht, which violates the rules of the sanctions regime.

Khudainatov’s lawyers claim that he is not under sanctions, therefore, “the yacht is not subject to confiscation, since it is not a derivative of any illegal activity.”
Proving that Kerimov is the real owner and Khudainatov is not may be a difficult task for US prosecutors. One of the reasons is that superyachts are very often registered through networks of shell owners, offshore companies and trusts.

“This case is the simplest civil forfeiture case for anyone who has unlimited money to pay lawyers challenging the forfeiture,” Cassella said. According to him, this could “delay the matter forever.”

American spending on a Russian oligarch's yacht

While the court cases continue, Amadea has to be supported by the US federal budget. According to court documents, the yacht's maintenance costs about $600 a month, and that's without $144 in insurance and related expenses.

Insuring a luxury superyacht is a separate issue. According to court documents, Amadea's insurance policy requires repairs to be carried out in dry dock.

In February, the U.S. Marshals Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice that includes the arrest and custody of federal criminals and the auction of confiscated property, said Amadea must undergo dry docking. This is how the yacht ended up in the port of Everett.

During dry docking, the yacht is lifted out of the water to carry out repair work. In the case of Amadea, such work was valued at approximately $5,6 million. While repairs are being carried out, the American government should not pay to maintain the yacht. The process may take several months.

On February 9, the US government filed a court petition to sell Amadea to avoid excessive maintenance costs for the superyacht. Khudainatov’s side in court opposes the sale of the yacht, noting that he is ready to consistently pay the cost of maintaining Amadea.
According to Cassell, such a sale of the yacht is legal. He emphasizes that its value falls over time, so it is better to convert the yacht into money now, and also avoid excessive costs for its maintenance. And then, whoever wins the lawsuit will be able to take the money from the sale of the yacht.

Experts emphasize that much more benefit for supporting Ukraine would come from sovereign Russian assets stored in Western banks. In legal circles, attitudes towards the civil forfeiture procedure may change.

In early May 2024, five of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices expressed criticism of the civil forfeiture process. This may influence the opinion of other lower courts.

Confiscation in favor of Ukraine

So far, the United States has been able to transfer asset forfeiture funds to Ukraine in only a few cases. Thus, in May 2023, US Attorney General Merrick Garland approved the first payment to the government of Kyiv ($5,4 million) from financial assets seized from oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, close to Putin. A year later, the United States transferred to Ukraine more than one million ammunition that had been sent by Iran to the Yemeni Houthis.

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In February 2024, the US Department of Justice announced that it had transferred about $500 thousand of confiscated Russian funds to Ukraine.

It is not yet known exactly when the Amadea case will end.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this process drags on for ten years,” Cassella suggested.

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