Russian superyacht seized by U.S. docks in Hawaii, flying American flag

A Russian-owned superyacht seized in Fiji by American law enforcement — which has been cracking down on sanctioned oligarchs — docked in Honolulu Thursday.

The Amadea was seized on June 7, following weeks of legal and administrative hurdles that had stalled American efforts to seize the $300 million vessel. The U.S. government says the luxe ship, which is nearly the length of a football field, is owned by sanctioned gold mining billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. An attorney for the ship’s holding company says it belongs to a Russian oil executive who the U.S. has not sanctioned.

The ship was seized as part of the Justice Department’s Kleptocapture initiative, an effort to crack down on the luxury assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs. Legislation supported by President Biden that has passed the House of Representatives, but not the Senate, would allow the U.S. to sell the Amadea and direct the proceeds toward the Ukraine war and recovery effort.

The Amadea, a Russian-owned superyacht that was seized by U.S. authorities, docked in Honolulu Harbor on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Tiffany Chang/CBS News

After announcing the Amadea’s seizure on May 5, the U.S. Justice Department was stymied for weeks by a frenzied legal effort and a yacht crew that refused to sail for the U.S. Ultimately, contractors for the U.S. hired an entirely new crew of more than two dozen to sail the vessel from Fiji to the U.S.

The Amadea’s extravagant features include a helipad, a mosaic-tiled pool, a wine cellar, a lobster tank and a sauna, amid an interior of “delicate marble and stones” and “precious woods and delicate silk fabrics,” according to court documents.

The Amadea is one of two seized superyachts owned by holding companies tied to Eduard Khudainatov, who was sanctioned by the European Union on June 4, but has not been sanctioned by the U.S. In court documents filed in the U.S., officials claim Khudainatov is a “straw man” for the sanctioned Russian elite who really own the yachts and “a second-tier oligarch (at best) who would not have anywhere near the resources to purchase and maintain more than $1 billion worth of luxury yachts.”

An FBI agent said in a court filing that emails found on ship computers referred to Suleiman Kerimov’s family in code — “G-0” for Kerimov, “G-1” for his wife, “G-2” for his daughter and “G-3” for his son — and said the Kerimovs had requested long-term changes to the ship, such as a new pizza oven, a new spa bed, and, from Kerimov himself, “the quickest (jet skis) available.”

The Justice Department did not reply to a request for comment.

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