The case of luxury vessel Amadea has been in the news for more than a month ever since its talked-about 18-day trans-Pacific voyage. It’s beginning to look like what the legal team of sanctioned Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov couldn’t manage for his $325 million superyacht Amadea; the crew will accomplish. According to court documents obtained by CBS News, the staff has flatly refused to sail with U.S. authorities who are attempting to seize the vessel. The trip ended with Amadea landing in a soup and staying in Fiji for longer than anyone anticipated. After several wrists and turns and court hearings, it was finally declared that the United States won the legal battle to seize the elegant megayacht in Fiji.
The latest curveball comes in the Amadea’s crew’s refusal to aid U.S. authorities on the ship’s departing voyage. The staff of the megayacht stands between the devil and the Dead Sea. On one end, they are not being paid to sail the ship owing to Kerimov’s funds being frozen. On the other end, the crew is anxious this cooperation with U.S. authorities will be viewed as a breach of contract and could ruin their professional reputation and prospects.
As per Business Insider, the ship’s British captain, John Walsh, stated, “U.S. authorities and contractors were rushing and conscious of time and wanting immediate handover…. for them to depart Fiji on the Amadea without delay.” He also said, “In short, the current crew of the Amadea is refusing to sail on the Amadea with the U.S. authorities to an unknown destination.”
Not one to give up at this stage of development, the U.S. hired a new crew for the ship. As per reports, the boat’s captain stirred trouble by repeatedly rejecting new crewmembers on board due to a lack of proper vetting. Even with the new crew in place, the court ruled against the Amadea’s owners but gave Haniff a week to appeal once more to Fiji’s Supreme Court, meaning the Department of Justice will have to wait before it can finally seize the ship. What started as an exhilarating story is now turning into a monotonous soap opera that will lose its following.
The United States struggle:
The U.S. was always very keen on impending Kerimov’s prized possession Amadea. They have been straining to seize the $325 million megayacht ever since it docked in Fiji without customs clearance. Their first hurdle came in the form of the registered owner, Millemarin Investments, who named Eduard Khudainatov as the owner of Amadea. Till U.S. authorities didn’t prove Kerimov as the owner of Amadea (no easy task), the stunning yacht was barred from leaving Fiji’s waters under a restraining order granted by the country’s high court in Suva.
U.S. officials proved sanctioned tycoon Suleiman Kerimov owns Amadea, and Fiji’s High Court ruled it would give an order to register a U.S. seizure warrant. The execution of a U.S. warrant was then suspended till defense lawyers filed an appeal. To top it all, the crew of Amadea is leaving no stone unturned to stall the process.
The Fiji struggle:
Ever since Amadea entered Fiji without customs clearance, it has remained there and bled the island nation dry. While U.S. and Kerimov’s legal team battle it out, Fiji has its own ordeals. The high maintenance yacht comes with a hefty $1 million a week maintenance bill. Fiji has played the polite host with the Amadea berthed at the Lautoka Wharf for way too long, and the course of Amadea is still not clear.
DPP Christopher Pryde dubbed Amadea a nuisance and asked the Appeals Court to dismiss the application by Millemarin Investment Limited lawyer Feizal Haniff, who is challenging the order of the High Court to grant the seizure. As per The Fiji Times, the GDP of the island country is $4 billion, and it has already spent close to a whopping $5 million to keep Amadea there.