US Government Spends $30 Million Repairing Russian Oligarch’s Superyacht

Money well spent?

US Government Spends $30 Million Repairing Russian Oligarch’s Superyacht

Image: Getty

Since the war in Ukraine began over two years ago in February 2022, a string of incredibly expensive superyachts have been seized in an effort to sanction some of the Kremlin’s wealthiest allies, along with the Russian nation itself, while others were abandoned by Oligarch’s as they sought to avoid arrest or interrogation in Ukraine-allied territories.

A turn in this tale we didn’t expect, however, was to learn that the US government has spent nearly US$20 million (c. $30 million AUD) on maintaining a luxury superyacht seized from oligarch Suleiman Kerimov as part of its extended efforts to sanction Kremlin allies. The 348-foot Amadea was captured in Fiji in 2022 by the FBI alongside local law enforcement.

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While the seizure may represent the US’ ongoing commitment to Kremlin crackdowns, it also represents a massive financial burden on American taxpayers. With monthly expenses nearing US$1 million, federal prosecutors are now asking (read: begging) a judge to allow the sale of the vessel to offset its eye-watering upkeep costs.

The yacht’s undeniably lavish amenities come with a predictably hefty price tag, including US$600,000 in maintenance, US$144,000 in insurance, plus additional costs for dry docking — no jokes please — that altogether total just under a million dollars per month; US$922,000 to be precise.

Unsurprisingly, the situation has sparked something of a legal battle, with the likes of Eduard Khudainatov and Millemarin Investments stepping forward to claim ownership of the Amadea. They argue that the US’ seizure was wrongful and have offered to reimburse the costs incurred during its stay under federal protection. However, the case is becoming increasingly drawn out and complex — as you might expect given the wider symbolic resonance — leaving the yacht’s ultimate fate in limbo.

Another vessel seized in Bermuda as part of the same crackdown. Image: Superyacht Times

The dilemma faced by US government underscores the complexities of enforcing sanctions and seizing assets. While the intention is, quite rightly, to penalize those supporting the Kremlin, the financial implications for American taxpayers are both unignorable and likely to spark a pretty serious backlash which will likely only be heightened in the run-up to the presidential election later this year.

As the legal proceedings continue, the Amadea remains docked in San Diego, an unwilling silent witness to the ongoing and increasingly complex tensions between the US and Russia. The outcome of this case will not only determine the fate of this luxurious vessel but also set an important precedent for fiscal tactics deployed in the name of geopolitics.