US seize mystery $325m Russian oligarch superyacht after legal battle in Fiji

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The legal battle to find the owner of the Amadea yacht, the expense of keeping the vessel emerged and it was clear that very few buyers would be able to afford the superyacht. The Amadea has been docked in Lautoka Wharf during the legal battle between the Department of Justice in the US and the British Virgin Islands company to which the boat is registered to.

On Tuesday, it was ruled that the vessel could be set to the United States to be in the possession of the US authorities. 

The 106-metre vessel features a helipad, Jacuzzi, lobster tank and sundeck and demands a 24-strong crew of deckhands and engineers. 

In written evidence submitted to the court, the captain of the Amadea noted the costly materials: marble, gilded metal fittings, silk, precious woods and leathers, and a high gloss paint system to name a few.

According to the captain, if the vessel does not receive the correct care with specific temperature and humidity control to preserve artworks onboard, the yacht would “rapidly deteriorate”.

The captain claimed that the lack of treatment would leave “an unsaleable hull” and put the cost of docking the vessel in a dry dock at £1.1million (£875,600) per month. 

He added: “There are a very, very limited number of buyers who can afford her upkeep, let alone her purchase price.”

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It has been concluded that the identity of the owner will be settled in a court in the US, lawyers on behalf of Eduard Khudainatov, a Russian oil manager, claim he is the owner.

However, US officials have said he is in fact the settlor of a trust through offshore companies and the true owner is gold mogul Suleiman Kerimov who is currently under sanctions.

The significance of the identity is paramount to future sanctions as the question has been raised if Khudainatov is shielding the true owner of a more expensive mega-yacht.

The Scheherazade is valued at $700 million and features six decks and two helipads and was seized in Italy after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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The Russian oil boss has not confirmed the foundations of his ownership of the Scheherazade but reportedly holds it from another offshore arrangement which makes the true ownership challenging to decipher just like the Amadea. 

Italian police are investigating if the mega-yacht actually belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Court documents from the Fiji ruling show the belief held by US officials that Khudainatov “is being held out as the owner of the two largest superyachts on record, both linked to sanctioned individuals.”

They proposed he was being deployed as a “clean, unsanctioned straw owner to conceal the true beneficial owners of these vessels.”

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