“Massive investigation” to pinpoint ownership of superyacht 

The US, UK and European governments have been trying to find proof that the owner of one of the world’s most opulent yachts, the Amadea, is Russian oligarch, Suleiman Kerimov.

In March, the US and its allies set up a special group called REPO (Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs) to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western governments have seized more than 12 yachts linked to oligarchs, with a combined valuation of at least $4 billion.

However, as one of the investigators commented, tracking down a superyacht’s true owner can be “extremely difficult”. This is because ownership is often hidden behind shell companies and trusts, registered in countries where information is “tightly controlled” and not something that the authorities can always easily access.

This is despite the fact that these yachts are hardly inconspicuous. For example, the Amadea boasts not only a helipad but also a 10-metre mosaic-decorated infinity pool, two pianos, a gym and what could potentially be a priceless Fabergé egg… Presumably no superyacht is complete without one!

In addition, there appears to be no shortage of money for the alleged owners to defend the claims and when the Amadea docked in Fiji, a local lawyer intervened on behalf of a company that is formally registered as the superyacht’s owner, claiming that a different oligarch, Eduard Khuadainatov, who is not under sanctions in the US, owns the yacht.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “The sanctions placed on Russian oligarchs before and following the invasion of Ukraine have led to countless investigations worldwide.

“A wide range of experts, including forensic accountants, have been involved in trying to establish the ownership of assets. The problems they encounter are similar to those now regularly faced by lawyers, accountants and other professional advisers who are required to ensure that none of their clients are owned or part-owned by individuals who are subject to sanctions.  The obligation to ensure that no one subject to sanctions has an interest in any client does not only apply when a new client joins a firm but is an ongoing requirement necessitating continuous monitoring. Firms have therefore had to implement ever more onerous procedures to avoid falling foul of the rules. ”

Posted in The Forensic Blog.