- The US has been attempting to seize a $300 million yacht linked to a Russian oligarch for weeks.
- But the crew is “refusing to sail” with US authorities, according to court documents viewed by CBS.
- The crew fears that cooperating would ruin their reputation in the yacht industry, the outlet reports.
The crew of a $300 million superyacht linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch is “refusing to sail” with US authorities who are attempting to seize the vessel, according to court documents obtained by CBS News.
For weeks, US officials have struggled to seize the Amadea, a luxury superyacht docked in Fiji that the Justice Department says is owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. The lengthy legal process was further complicated on May 7, when the ship’s crew declined to aid US authorities on the ship’s departing voyage, CBS reported.
The reasoning behind the crew’s refusal was two-fold, according to CBS’ reporting based on a sworn affidavit from the ship’s British captain, John Walsh.
The first is that the crew members are no longer being paid to sail the Amadea because the owner’s funds have been frozen. On top of that, the crew is worried that breaching its employment contract by working with US law enforcement could ruin their professional reputation, the report says.
“In short, the current crew of the Amadea are refusing to sail on the Amadea with the U.S. authorities to an unknown destination,” Walsh wrote, per CBS.
Following the incident, the US appears to have hired a new crew for the ship. However, the boat’s captain repeatedly rejected having new crewmembers on board due to a lack of proper “vetting,” CBS reports.
The 348-foot Amadea, equipped with a helipad, pool, and eight cabins, is one of the largest superyachts in the world.
Kerimov, its alleged owner, was sanctioned by the US in 2018 and is said to have “close ties” to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. The billionaire gold magnate is one of dozens of oligarchs whose foreign assets have become chess pieces in the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
So far, the US has fallen behind its European allies when it comes to seizing the sanctioned billionaires’ “ill-gotten gains,” an economic punishment officials hope will turn the country’s elite against Putin.
The oligarch’s lawyer argued that the ship’s true owner is a Russian oil executive named Eduard Khudainatov, who is not sanctioned. On Friday, a Fijian court dismissed the lawyer’s appeal that was preventing the ship’s seizure. He has a week to appeal the decision.