Superyacht Luna Crew Have Passports Returned But Divorce Battle Continues: Although the divorce case involving the 115-meter expedition superyacht Luna is still being contested, its crew has received some relief thanks to the actions of crew union Nautilus International. The crew inadvertently became caught up in the battle between Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov and his ex-wife Tatiana Akhmedova when Akhmedov refused to pay his wife a $567 million settlement as order by a British court.
Luna has been in Dubai since last October when she went there to undergo maintenance. The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Court ordered her arrested under the directive of a London high court. The seizure, however, did not impact the crew directly until February when Dubai authorities placed the superyacht under a freezing order, meaning she could not depart the port. They also took the crew’s passports, meaning they couldn’t leave the vessel, not even if their resigned their positions. Allegedly the passports were confiscated so there would be no chance of Luna departing.
Confiscating passports in this manner was a severe violation of the rights of seafarers, according to Nautilus Strategic Organizer Danny McGowan, who likened the crew to being treated as chattels instead of maritime professionals.
Nautilus International worked with Luna’s Marshall Islands flag state to provide advice and assistance to the crewmembers on board, some of who were hesitant to speak because of non-disclosure agreements. Ultimately, they were convinced that cooperation wouldn’t detrimentally affect them.
A court judgment ordered the return of the passports, but the local coastguard created further obstacles, arguing hat a guarantee on the safe manning of the vessel was e=needed before the documents were released. Neither Luna’s captain or the management company appeared willing to sign a guarantee. After crewmembers spoke with the Emirate’s British Embassy, consular staff pressured the coastguard to accept the order, resulting in the return of the passports.
In December 12016, a British high court ruled that Akhmedov pay his £453.6 million, or $600 million at the time to his ex-wife were London residents when they were married. The issue continues to lag on as Akhmedov refuses to pay her, claiming they divorced in Russia more than a decade earlier and he did pay her at the time. Since the ruling in Great Britain, however, Akhmedova has tried to recover a number of her ex-husband’s assets, including the superyacht. This past April, the same British high court ruled that Luna should go to Akhmedova. Media reports quoted the judge, the Honorable Mr. Justice Haddon-Dave, as saying Akhmedov had taken many elaborate steps to hide his wealth, which included a number of offshore companies and tried to transfer Luna among those assets. Akhmedov has requested that a Sharia court in Dubai rule on the matter.
Roman Abramovich, Luna’s original owner, sold her to Akhmedov in 2014 at an unconfirmed price of more than €300 million. Luna underwent a €50 million refit in 2015.
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Tags: Superyacht, Luna, Crew, Divorce Battle, Roman Abramovich, Farkhad Akhmedov, Tatiana Akhmedova