USA is Paying $600,000 Monthly for Maintenance of Seized Russian Superyacht

Government seeks to sell $325 million yacht to end "Excessive Costs" of maintenance.

The United States government has requested permission from a judge to auction off a $325 million yacht seized as part of the widespread sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

The Amadea yacht, allegedly belonging to Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov, was seized in Fiji in April 2022 at the request of the US government. (The tycoon was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for being a Russian government official, and then by the United Kingdom and the European Union in 2022 due to his close ties to Vladimir Putin.) The yacht arrived in the US in June 2022, and since then, the US has been paying $600,000 monthly for maintenance.

The substantial monthly amount includes $360,000 for crew salaries, $75,000 for fuel, and $165,000 for maintenance, waste removal, food, and other expenses, according to court documents filed on Friday in New York.

"The maintenance costs of the Amadea yacht are far from modest, and there is good reason for the government and the public to be spared these expenses," the filing states.

In addition to maintenance costs, the US Department of Justice stated that it is paying an annual insurance bill of $1.7 million this month. It will also have to allocate $5.6 million to send the Amadea yacht to dry dock for repairs in March.

The court will first need to determine the owner of the Amadea yacht before deciding its fate. Millemarin Investments is the legal owner on paper, but the US alleges that Kerimov is the actual owner and exercises control. To further complicate matters, Eduard Khudainatov, the former head of the Russian oil producer Rosneft, claims he is the rightful owner. He has not been sanctioned by the US and wants the Amadea returned.

Khudainatov's lawyers have said that their client will reimburse the US for the maintenance costs of the yacht if it is returned to him. (They have spent about $20 million on the Amadea to date.) The lawyers added that the seizure was "unlawful."

The US has rejected the ownership claim but says he should pay for the maintenance until the court makes a decision. Since he is currently not paying, the government says it has the right to sell the Amadea yacht.

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