San Diego Bay

Russian Oligarch's Seized Yacht Sails into San Diego Harbor

The yacht Amadea, which boasts a helipad and swimming pool, was seized earlier this month in Fiji.

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A $325 million 350-foot yacht owned by a sanctioned "beneficiary of Russian corruption" was put into port in San Diego Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Officials with the DOJ said the Amadea, which was seized in connection to the department's KleptoCapture campaign undertaken in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, is owned by Suleiman Kerimov a Russian billionaire.

Law enforcement officials in Newport Beach said the boat was undergoing repairs and the keys were inside it when it was stolen.

The yacht, which boasts a helipad and swimming pool, was seized earlier this month in Fiji.

“Last month, I warned that the department had its eyes on every yacht purchased with dirty money,” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in May. “This yacht seizure should tell every corrupt Russian oligarch that they cannot hide – not even in the remotest part of the world. We will use every means of enforcing the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine.”

According to CNBC, Kerimov "was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2018 for allegedly profiting from the Russian government through corruption and its illegal annexation of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014."

The Amadea sailed under the Coronado Bridge at around 8 a.m. on Monday before heading into a berth on the San Diego waterfront.

After a transpacific journey of over 5,000 miles, the Amadea has safely docked in a port within the United States, and will remain in the custody of the U.S. government, pending its anticipated forfeiture and sale," read a statement, in part, released Monday by the DOJ.

The U.S. said Kerimov secretly bought the vessel last year through various shell companies.

The U.S. won a legal battle in Fiji to take the Cayman Islands-flagged superyacht earlier this month. The Amadea made a stop in Honolulu Harbor en route to the U.S. mainland.

After the yacht arrived in San Diego, John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor, told NBC 7 that he thinks the U.S. government hopes moves like the Amadea's seizure are efforts to apply pressure to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Incredibly, the owners of assets like the Amadea may just walk away rather than fight ther seizure.

"A lot of times people that own these objects … they don’t want to get involved," Kirby said. "For whatever reason, they don’t want people digging around in their life. And so sometimes they just let it go," adding that such seizures are "easy a lot of times because you often have bad actors that don’t want to come forward and don’t want to claim the yacht, don’t want to litigate about it, so it could go into default judgment."

The Associated Press contributed to this report — Ed.

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