SYDNEY: The United States is seeking to seize a superyacht suspected of belonging to a Russian oligarch that is docked in the Pacific island nation of Fiji, a restraining order filed on Tuesday (Apr 19) by Fiji's director of public prosecutions showed.
The luxury vessel the Amadea is widely believed to be owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, sanctioned by the United States and European Union.
The vessel arrived in Fiji a week ago after leaving Mexico 18 days earlier and crossing the Pacific. Police are investigating.
Authorities in various countries have seized luxury vessels and villas owned by Russian billionaires in response to sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a special military operation.
Fiji's director of public prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, filed an application to the High Court seeking to prevent the Amadea from leaving Fiji.
The application requested "the motor yacht Amadea be restrained from leaving Fijian waters until the finalisation of an application to register a warrant to seize the property and ... that a US warrant to seize the Amadea be registered".
The US embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but last week said "the United States is committed to finding and seizing the assets of the oligarchs who have supported the Russian Federation's brutal, unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine".
The court has not heard the application.
A superyacht agent in Fiji acting for the Amadea told Reuters last week the vessel's lawyers were contesting that Suleiman was the owner.
Registration records viewed by Reuters show the yacht is registered to a company in the Cayman Islands.
Kerimov was sanctioned by the United States in 2018 and 2014 in response to Russia's actions in Syria and Ukraine.