Russian Billionaire ‘Hid Identity of Owner of $1BN Worth of Yachts’


  • US authorities believed a Russian tycoon acted as a “straw owner” of two yachts, per Bloomberg.
  • A US affidavit says multiple offshore companies and a yacht broker helped hide the true owners.
  • The superyachts, worth more than $1 billion, are linked to Vladimir Putin and Suleiman Kerimov.

US authorities believe that a Russian billionaire acted as a “straw owner” of two superyachts worth more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

A US affidavit says a nest of offshore companies and a yacht broker helped hide a superyacht’s true owner, according to court filings in the South Pacific island of Fiji, per the news outlet. 

Amid western sanctions, superyachts belonging to Russian oligarchs have been seized or detained in different parts of the world. The US is trying to seize a $325 million superyacht in Fiji, belonging to Suleiman Kerimov. The FBI found evidence aboard the vessel incriminating the owner, who “caused US dollar transactions to be routed through US financial institutions for the support and maintenance of the Amadea.” 

A $700 million Scheherazade superyacht, which has been in a dry dock for nine months, was recently refloated after being refueled. It is rumored to be linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

According to Bloomberg’s report, the beneficial owner of both yachts – which can differ from the actual owner – is the former president of state-controlled Rosneft, Eduard Khudainatov. US officials believe him to be the “true beneficial owner.” However, Khudainatov isn’t on any sanctions list.

An affidavit by a special agent with the FBI, filed in the Fiji court proceedings, states: “The fact that Khudainatov is being held out as the owner of two of the largest superyachts on record, both linked to sanctioned individuals, suggests that Khudainatov is being used as a clean, unsanctioned straw owner to conceal the true beneficial owners of these vessels.”

It continues, per Bloomberg: “While Khudainatov is wealthy, there is no reason to believe he has the financial resources to purchase both the Amadea and the Scheherazade, which are collectively worth more than $1 billion.”

The 350-foot Amadea superyacht features a helipad, a mosaic-tiled pool, and a lobster tank. Its owner, Kerimov, is thought to be Russia’s ninth-richest person with a fortune of around $14.5 billion, according to Forbes. He has been sanctioned by the US, EU, and the UK over alleged money laundering and his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

According to the affidavit seen by Bloomberg, the Kerimov family was involved in approving the installation of a new pizza oven, a particular brand of “spa bed,” and repositioned electric sockets on the vessel. Each family member was given a codename by crew members, including Kerimov himself referred to as G0. 

“Apparently G0 has two things that have to be immaculate. Stainless and teak,” the document says per Bloomberg, adding: “G0 has requested the quickest [jet skis] available so we will be getting new skis at some point.”



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