US courts to decide yacht owner

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The Super yacht Amadea docked at Port of Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

The beneficial owner of the superyacht Amadea is for the US courts to decide.

Counsel for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) Jayneeta Prasad said this while replying to the submissions of defence counsel Faizal Hanif during the hearing of the DPP Christopher Pryde’s application to seize the $700million yacht subject to forfeiture.

The matter was called before High Court judge Justice Deepthi Amaratunga in the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Ms Prasad said in the application, the DPP was asking the court to register a US warrant to seize property subject to forfeiture for the superyacht Amadea, under Section 31 (2), (3) and (6) of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (MACMa) 1997.

Mr Hanif said the restraining order was a step before a forfeiture order could be made, either conviction-based or non-conviction-based.

He said the US authorities say they “intend to bring a non-conviction civil case against the yacht”.

He also said the court had the discretion to make the order to register the warrant, but Section 31 (6) of the MACMA 1997 required the registration must be made as if it were a restraining order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (PCA) 1997.

Mr Hanif said under the PCA 1997 the court may make the order if there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that the yacht was tainted or terrorist property, of which there was no evidence to prove so.

He said the first question the court needed to decide on was whether the Amadea was tainted property.

The matter will be called for judgment on Tuesday, May 3.

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