DAILY OBSERVER-The government has confirmed it is set to keep any proceeds from the sale of a Russian-owned superyacht that has been moored in Antigua’s Falmouth Harbour for more than a year.The 269-foot Alfa Nero, which is owned by Russian businessman Andrey Guryev, arrived in Antigua in February last year, the same month Russia invaded Ukraine.
A known close associate of Putin, Guryev appears on a number of sanction lists including the US, UK and EU.
Last week’s Cabinet notes advised that a notice would be published in newspapers and other media for a period of 10 days, “notifying of the sale of the Alfa Nero vessel in order to satisfy the requirements under the law for a forced sale”.
It added, “If the owner fails to claim the vessel within that time period, the government of Antigua and Barbuda, having declared the vessel a hazard to shipping and to the harbour where it is moored, will sell it to the highest bidder.”
There was however no set time to indicate exactly when the notices will be published.
“I can’t say precisely when it will happen but we are crossing all of our Ts and dotting all of our Is because, once the vessel has been sold, we believe that there might be an attempt on the part of the owner to seek compensation in the Antigua and Barbuda courts. So, we want to ensure that we obey the law to the letter, both the spirit and the purpose of the law,” the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst said.
“We know that there are some costs associated with it remaining in the harbour like that and we are terribly afraid that in the summer months when we get hurricanes and … if it’s not gone by then, that it could be blown anywhere and sink any place making shipping very dangerous, so we want to get this done as soon as possible, but I can’t give a precise timeline.
“I can assure you, though, that it will happen within a matter of months,” Hurst explained.
Those additional costs he alluded to include outstanding payments to the yacht’s staff and the supplier of fuel used to maintain the vessel.
Last year the superyacht was searched during a multi-agency operation led by the Office of National Money Laundering and Control Policy (ONDCP), supported by the police, the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and the Antigua and Barbuda Customs and Excise Division.
It came days after the US government sought Antigua and Barbuda’s assistance – under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty – to conduct a search of the vessel and interview its crew.