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US provided intel that helped Ukraine target Russian warship, sources say

 A $300 million yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov was seized by Fijian authorities on Thursday at the request of the United States Department of Justice. 

“Fijian law enforcement executed a seizure warrant freezing the Motor Yacht Amadea (the Amadea), a 348-foot luxury vessel owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov,” a news release from the Department of Justice said.

The Fijian authorities acting with the FBI were following a seizure warrant issued by Washington “which found that the Amadea is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), money laundering and conspiracy,” according to the statement. 

“Kerimov and those acting on his behalf and for his benefit caused US dollar transactions to be routed through U.S. financial institutions for the support and maintenance of the Amadea.”

The seizure was orchestrated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force run out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, focused on enforcing the “the sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.” 

Kerimov has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control who designated him as “part of a group of Russian oligarchs who profit from the Russian government through corruption and its malign activity around the globe, including the occupation of Crimea,” the Department of Justice added. 

In doing so, the Treasury also identified him as an official of the Government of the Russian Federation and a member of the Russian Federation Council which is the upper house of Russian parliament. He is the owner of Nafta Moscow, a Russian financial group. Kerimov and his family have an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion, according to the European Union.  

The UK has also sanctioned Kerimov for his decision to vote in favor of laws endorsing President Putin’s decision to recognize the breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.  

He was also placed on the EU’s list of sanctioned individuals for attending on Feb. 24 “a meeting of oligarchs at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin to discuss the impact of the course of action in the wake of Western sanctions.” The EU contended that Kerimov’s attendance at said meeting shows that he is “a member of the inner circle of oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.” 

US Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed that the US court ruling “should make clear that there is no hiding place for the assets of individuals who violate US laws.” 

“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,” warned US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. 

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