Fiji’s High Court has granted permission allowing the US to seize a superyacht that it claims belongs to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.
The vessel, called the Amadea, has been restrained from leaving Fijian waters since mid-April after Fiji’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) filed for its restraint and applied to register the US warrant.
Justice Deepthi Amaratunga granted the US’ order to seize the superyacht, a statement released on Tuesday said.
The yacht is registered to Millemarin Investments Ltd, but the US claims it is “beneficially” owned by Kerimov, according to a DPP spokesperson, who added that the issue of ownership will likely be decided in a US court.
CNN has reached out to Millemarin for comment, but has not yet heard back.
According to Australian public broadcaster ABC, defense lawyer Feizal Haniff, acting for Millemarin, asked the court for a stay following the ruling.
“There is some indication that American authorities are wanting to take this boat away,” Haniff told journalists outside court, ABC reported. “(The judge) said we have a right to appeal, and obviously he said that we will ensure that the boat is in Fiji while the stay application is filed.”
Kerimov, a member of the Russian Federation Council, has been sanctioned by the US Treasury since 2018 in response to Russia’s activity in Crimea and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He has also been sanctioned by the UK and European Union in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some background: The news comes nearly a week after US President Joe Biden outlined a proposal that would further pressure Russian oligarchs over the war in Ukraine, including using money from their seized assets to fund Ukraine’s defense.
He said the proposal would strengthen US law enforcement capabilities to seize property linked to Russia’s kleptocracy.
“It’s going to create new expedited procedures for forfeiture and seizure of these properties and it’s going to ensure that when the oligarchs’ assets are sold off, funds can be used directly to remedy the harm Russia caused and help rebuild Ukraine,” Biden said.
The package — developed through an interagency process including the Treasury Department, Justice Department, State Department and Commerce Department — will “establish new authorities for the forfeiture of property linked to Russian kleptocracy, allow the government to use the proceeds to support Ukraine and further strengthen related law enforcement tools,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Arlette Saenz, Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post.