An attempt by Millemarin Investment Ltd to prevent the movement of luxury yacht Amadea (IMO 1012351) out of Lautoka, Fiji, was struck out by the Fijian Supreme Court on June 6th. The court dismissed a summons by Millemarin Investment Ltd for a stay of execution and of proceedings pending appeal.
Chief Justice Kamal Kumar said that a failure to comply with the UN Convention against Transnational Crime would put Fiji’s international reputation at risk. He also accepted the State’s submission that the Amadea’s berthing in Lautoka was expensive, but observed that the fact that US authorities had undertaken to pay costs incurred was irrelevant. The Supreme Court ruled that public interest dictated that the superyacht, which has no association to Fiji, should sail out of Fiji waters to avoid wastage of valuable resources. CJ Kumar said that the Amadea had sailed into Fijian waters without any permit, most likely in the hope that it would be offered a haven from US apprehension and prosecution.
The ruling rejected the argument by Millemarin Investment that Fiji would be acting as a rubber stamp for the US Department of Justice.
US law enforcement agencies, which have been in Fiji for some time now, can now take custody of the Amadea and sail it out of Fiji.
The decision acknowledged Fiji’s commitment to respecting international mutual assistance requests and Fiji’s international obligations. The court accepted the validity of the US warrant and agreed that issues concerning money laundering and ownership need to be decided in the court of original jurisdiction, in this case, the US District Court of Columbia.
The Amadea left Lautoka on June 7th. As of late June 7th local time the now US-flagged vessel, with AIS fully functioning, was listed as “underway”, but still close to the western coast of Fiji.