The Government has put in motion plans to sell a Russian-owned yacht vessel that has been docked in Antigua and Barbuda since the early part of last year (2022).
Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin is reporting that a notice will be published in the local newspapers and other media outlets for a period of 10 days, notifying of the sale of the Alpha Nero vessel, property of oligarch Andrey Guryev.
Reportedly, Benjamin told the Cabinet on Wednesday, March 1, that the notice is meant to satisfy the legal requirements for a forced sale.
According to the attorney general, “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.”
Reportedly, the vessel has remained in the same position since being docked in February 2022, with neither its staff nor its fuel provider having been paid.
Last year, it was announced that investigations into the vessel, the property of a Russian oligarch, were ongoing, and a joint operation was conducted by a team of local law-enforcement agencies aboard the yacht.
This prompted a press release from Minister of Foreign Affairs Paul “Chet” Greene, who confirmed that the operation was conducted on Saturday, August 20, 2022 at Falmouth Harbour.
It was led by officers from the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) and supported by a multi-agency task force comprising the Police, the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) and the Customs Department.
Guryev was one of a number of Russians whose names had appeared on the sanctions list issued by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In March last year, following the invasion, the Government advised all local companies not to transact business with any persons, companies, or other entities that appear on these sanctions lists.
It was announced, at the time, that the Alfa Nero was not being provided with any fuel, except for emergency supplies to keep it secure – both for the vessel’s sake and for the safety of Falmouth Harbour as a whole. Therefore, the yacht was unable to leave.