The court decision represented a significant victory for the United States as it faces challenges in its efforts to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs around the world.
The US won a legal battle to seize a Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji on Tuesday and wasted no time taking command of the $325 million vessel and sailing it away from the South Pacific country.
The court decision represented a significant victory for the United States as it faces challenges in its efforts to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs around the world. While many opponents of the Ukrainian war applaud those efforts, some actions have stretched the boundaries of American jurisdiction abroad.
The Supreme Court of Fiji lifted a stay order that had prevented the United States from seizing the superyacht Amadea.
Chief Justice Kamal Kumar ruled that based on the evidence, the chances of defense lawyers mounting an appeal that the top court would hear were “nil to very slim.”
Kumar said he accepted arguments that keeping the superyacht berthed in Fiji at Lautoka harbor was “costing the Fijian government dearly.”
“The fact that U.S. authorities have undertaken to pay costs incurred by the Fijian government is totally irrelevant,” the judge found. He said the Amadea “sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States of America.”
The U.S. removed the motorized vessel within an hour or two of the court’s ruling, possibly to ensure the yacht didn’t get entangled in any further legal action.
In early May, the Justice Department issued a statement saying the Amadea had been seized in Fiji, but that turned out to be premature after lawyers appealed.
It wasn’t immediately clear where the U.S. intended to take the Amadea, which the FBI has linked to the Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.
Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, stated that unresolved issues of money laundering and ownership of the Amadea must be resolved in the United States.
“The decision recognises Fiji’s commitment to complying with international mutual assistance requests and its international obligations,” Pryde said.