Wellington, New Zealand: The United States on Friday won the latest round of a legal battle to seize a $325-million Russian-owned superyacht in Fiji, with the case now appearing headed for the Pacific nation’s top court.
The case has highlighted the thorny legal ground the U.S. finds itself on as it tries to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs around the world. Those intentions are welcomed by many governments and citizens who oppose the war in Ukraine, but some actions are raising questions about how far U.S. jurisdiction extends.
Fiji’s Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal by Feizal Haniff, who represents the company that legally owns the superyacht Amadea. Haniff had argued the U.S. had no jurisdiction under Fiji’s mutual assistance laws to seize the vessel, at least until a court sorted out who really owned the Amadea.
Haniff said he now plans to take the case to Fiji’s Supreme Court and will apply for a court order to stop U.S. agents from sailing the Amadea from Fiji before the appeal is heard. As part of its ruling, the appeals court ordered that its judgment not take effect for seven days, presumably to give time for any appeals to be filed.
The U.S. argues that its investigation has found that behind various fronts, the Cayman Islands-flagged luxury yacht is really owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, an economist, and former Russian politician.