Oligarchs Assets

106 Metre Yacht Amadea Owner ? Eduard Khudainatov ?

Russian oligarch Eduard Khudainatov hires US lawyers and PR execs to help prove he owns seized superyacht

Eduard Khudainatov asserts ownership of the Yacht Amadea, a 106-meter yacht targeted for auction by the US government. This claim sets the stage for a legal battle that could determine the vessel’s fate. He has hired US lawyers and PR execs to help prove he owns seized superyacht.

Yacht Amadea Confiscated in 2022

Russian businessman Eduard Khudainatov, former CEO of state-owned oil giant Rosneft, is challenging the US government’s move to seize the 106-meter luxury yacht Amadea. The Department of Justice confiscated the vessel in 2022, claiming it was owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Despite the yacht being officially registered under Khudainatov’s name, valued at approximately $300 million, he refutes allegations suggesting he acted as a proxy owner for sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov. It’s worth noting that while Khudainatov is not sanctioned by the US, he is under sanctions by the EU.

Yacht Amadea Confiscated in 2022
Yacht Amadea Confiscated in 2022

Eduard Khudainatov Hired Lawyers

In a recent memorandum submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Eduard Khudainatov strongly asserted his ownership of the Amadea, dismissing any claims suggesting ownership by Suleiman Kerimov.

Khudainatov’s complaint contends that even if the US government’s allegations were true, the seizure of the yacht should be overturned. He argues that the yacht does not represent proceeds derived from sanctions evasion or money laundering.

The Russian businessman became embroiled in a civil forfeiture complaint filed by the US government in October of the previous year. The complaint alleges that Kerimov utilized shell companies and Khudainatov’s name to prevent the yacht’s confiscation after being sanctioned in 2018 due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. This predates the incident in May 2022 when Fijian authorities seized the Amadea at the request of US officials. Since then, the yacht has been held in San Diego, California.

US authorities have previously accused Khudainatov of also serving as the proxy owner of the 140-meter Scheherazade, believed to be owned by President Vladimir Putin. According to the Department of Justice, Khudainatov acted as a “clean, unsanctioned straw owner,” ostensibly owning the ships on paper to conceal the true owners—Putin and Kerimov—from authorities who might sanction the vessels. Additionally, he has been linked to the Crescent, which is currently under arrest in Spain.

Attorneys representing Khudainatov have sharply criticized the US government’s pursuit of the Amadea, labeling it as a politically motivated maneuver. They argue that the move lacks factual basis and stretches the boundaries of forfeiture, sanctions, and money laundering laws.

Khudainatov’s defense challenges the assertion that the yacht is tied to a money laundering scheme, pointing out that the government has failed to identify any underlying crime. They argue that the charges conflate money laundering with alleged sanctions violations and dispute the claim that Kerimov purchased the Amadea, as US authorities have provided no evidence linking payments to Kerimov or his agents.

The US contends that payments made to a company servicing the yacht originated from Kerimov through the US financial system. However, Khudainatov’s defense counters that the funds were not alleged to come from any sanctions violation and cannot be traced to one.

The memorandum reveals that the government intends to amend its complaint, a move contested by Khudainatov’s defense team, who argue that the current version lacks a valid claim for forfeiture.

Furthermore, the US government has threatened to pursue allegations of Khudainatov’s role as a “straw owner” for Vladimir Putin and fellow oligarch Igor Sechin for other vessels if he continues to assert ownership over the Amadea.

While this case may face significant hurdles for both parties involved, it has the potential to impact current sanctions policies and seizure practices. Both the Department of Justice and Khudainatov’s defense team have yet to provide immediate comments on the matter.

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