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The U.S. Department of Justice is pushing for the sale of the Amadea, a luxury yacht seized from a Russian oligarch, as maintenance costs soar to nearly $1 million a month. Owned ostensibly by sanctioned billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, the yacht’s upkeep has become a financial burden on U.S. taxpayers, prompting legal actions for its sale.

Legal and Financial Quagmire

In an effort to mitigate the hefty expenses incurred by the yacht’s maintenance, U.S. prosecutors submitted a court filing advocating for the Amadea‘s sale. Docked in San Diego, California, the yacht incurs monthly charges including crew salaries, fuel, maintenance, and insurance, totaling approximately $922,000. This situation underscores the complex challenges faced by the government in managing seized assets from Russian oligarchs amidst ongoing geopolitical tensions.

International Calls for Asset Utilization

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently suggested that profits from the sale of over $200 billion in frozen Russian assets should support Ukraine’s war effort. This proposal mirrors wider international efforts to leverage seized assets as a financial strategy against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the intricate legal battles over asset ownership and the feasibility of asset liquidation have mired such initiatives in complexity.

The Battle Over Ownership

The seizure of the Amadea has sparked a contentious legal fight, with Eduard Khudainatov, a former CEO of Rosneft not under sanctions, claiming ownership. Khudainatov’s legal team argues against a rushed sale, fearing a diminished return against the yacht’s potential value. Meanwhile, U.S. authorities contend that Kerimov, through a web of shell companies, is the true owner, pointing to evidence such as crew emails and requests for lavish upgrades on the yacht as proof of Kerimov’s beneficial ownership.

As this legal drama unfolds, the outcome could set precedents for future actions against sanctioned individuals and their assets, highlighting the intricate dance between international law, national interests, and the quest for justice amidst geopolitical strife.

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