Russian Oligarch’s Yacht Cost US Taxpayers $1 Million A Month

The yacht “Amadea,” owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who is under sanctions, costs US taxpayers $1 million a month.

Russian Oligarch’s Yacht Cost US Taxpayers $1 Million A Month 1

According to recent court documents, maintaining a mega-yacht that American authorities bought from a Russian tycoon is costing the government close to $1 million every month.

The U.S. Department of Justice requests authorization to sell the 348-foot yacht Amadea, which it confiscated in 2022 and claimed belonged to Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, who is under sanctions. The government stated that the “excessive costs” of personnel and maintenance, which it claimed may come to $922,000 per month, are the reason it wishes to sell the $230 million yacht.

The Reserve Bank of India has requested the nation’s principal state-owned refiners to accept rupees for crude, starting the process of de-dollarization with Gulf exporters.

“It is excessive for taxpayers to pay nearly a million dollars per month to maintain the Amadea when these expenses could be reduced to zero through [a] sale,” according to a court filing by U.S. prosecutors on Friday.

Currently berthed in San Diego, California, the monthly expenditures for Amadea total $600,000, which includes $360,000 for crew salaries, $75,000 for fuel, and $165,000 for maintenance, waste removal, food, and other costs. The records also state that they include exceptional charges, such as dry-docking fees, at $178,000, and $144,000 in monthly pro-rata insurance premiums, for a total of $922,000.

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The dispute over Amadea and the expenses incurred by the government draw attention to the difficulties in obtaining and disposing of Russian billionaires’ assets following their invasion of Ukraine, both financially and legally. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated last week that the EU should use the proceeds from more than $200 billion in frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine’s military endeavors.

Her remarks mirrored requests made by the government in the spring of 2022 to freeze Russian billionaire Vladimir Putin’s yachts, private planes, and residences to increase financial support for the war effort and exert pressure on him.

However, the legal procedure to establish ownership of the Russian assets and sell them has turned out to be much more expensive and time-consuming than anticipated, nearly two years later. The confiscated private jets of Russian millionaire Eugene Shvidler have sparked a legal struggle in London, while Sergei Naumenko has been challenging the detention of his superyacht Phi.

Russian Oligarch’s Yacht Cost US Taxpayers $1 Million A Month 2
Mega-yacht Amadea of sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, seized by the Fiji government at the request of the U.S., arrives at the Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii, on June 16, 2022.

According to court documents, the conflict over Amadea started in April 2022 when it was taken in Fiji at the US government’s request.

Attorneys for Eduard Khudainatov, an ex-CEO of Rosneft who is not under sanctions, claim he owns the yacht and have attempted to reclaim it, despite the U.S. alleging that Kerimov, who made his riches in mining, is the owner.

Khudainatov’s lawyers have protested in court against the U.S. government’s efforts to sell the yacht, arguing that the maintenance costs are negligible in comparison to the possible sale value and that a hurried sale could result in a distressed sale price.

As long as the government continues to pursue a sale and forfeiture, Khudainatov’s lawyers are unwilling to cover the continued maintenance expenses. But if the boat is returned to its rightful owner, they claim their client will pay back the US government the more than $20 million that has already been spent on maintenance.

The government claims in court documents that Kerimov used several front businesses and other owners to conceal his ownership of Amadea. According to the report, emails exchanged amongst crew members demonstrate that Kerimov “was the beneficial owner of the yacht, irrespective of the vessel’s titleholder.”

According to court documents, between 2021 and 2022, when the boat was seized, “there were no guest trips on the Amadea that did not include either Kerimov or his family members.” The emails also reveal that Kerimov and his family ordered several interior improvements to the yacht, including a new pizza oven and spa.

Additionally, according to the government, Kerimov has been attempting to sell Amadea for years, so a sale would be consistent with his intentions.

“This is not a situation in which a court would be ordering sale of a precious heirloom that a claimant desperately wishes to keep for sentimental reasons,” the government said in filings.

The government wouldn’t necessarily receive the cash, even if Amadea were sold swiftly. Legally speaking, the funds would be retained while Khudainatov and the government carried on with their legal dispute on ownership and forfeiture.

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