Fiji court rules Russian yacht to stay in South Pacific nation for now

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A screen grab from a drone video footage shows a Russian-owned superyacht 'Amadea' docked at Queens Wharf in Lautoka
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By Lucy Craymer and Kirsty Needham

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A Fiji court has ruled that the $300 million yacht allegedly owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov and seized by the United States must remain in Fiji for now.

The Fiji Court of Appeal has ruled that the luxury yacht Amadea can not be moved out of the South Pacific island nation until an appeal against the seizure is heard, defence lawyer Feizal Haniff, who is acting for the Amadea's registered owner Millemarin Investment Ltd, confirmed in an email.

The U.S. embassy in Suva did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest court ruling.

A Fiji court had ruled that the United States could seize the Russian-owned superyacht, weeks after it arrived and it was seized by the local police and FBI agents on Thursday.

Authorities in various countries have seized luxury vessels and villas owned by Russian billionaires in response to sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a special military operation.

Kerimov was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and 2018 in response to Russia's actions in Syria and Ukraine. He has also been sanctioned by the European Union.

Lawyers for Millemarin Investment Ltd previously told the court that Amadea was owned by another Russian oligarch, Eduard Khudainatov, the former chief of Russian energy giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM), who has not been sanctioned, media reported.

Overnight a luxury yacht reportedly owned by Khudainatov worth some $700 million was impounded by police in Italy.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Michael Perry)

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