The Government of Antigua and Barbuda reportedly has given assurances to several creditors of the Russian-owned vessel Alfa Nero that it will reimburse them from the sale proceeds of the yacht.
The Gaston Browne Administration intends to auction the vessel, and reportedly has already given a 10-day notice to satisfy the legal requirements for a forced sale.
The amendment to the Port Authority Act, passed by the Lower House last week and the Senate on Monday, March 20, provides the direction the Administration requires to ensure that the yacht – after the 10-day period – will, by law, become the property of the State.
The Cabinet says the period of notice will end in a few days, and it claims the vessel will then cease to be the property of a sanctioned person or sanctioned property. The bidding process will then be completed.
Under those conditions, this week’s Cabinet Notes say, a sale of the Alfa Nero will allow the proceeds to become the property of the State; and, as the law directs, the money will be placed in the Consolidated Fund.
While the Government says it intends to pay the vessel’s creditors from the sale proceeds, United Progressive Party (UPP) Senator Shawn Nicholas has recommended that the money be placed in an escrow account instead of the Consolidated Fund.
Meanwhile, the Notes say, “The new purchaser, not yet known, would justifiably desire to own the vessel free of all liabilities; and the Government wishes to ensure that its ownership under the law will be free of any liabilities also.”
However, while the Executive claims not to know who will purchase the yacht, information in circulation says that at least two buyers have already expressed an interest in the vessel reportedly owned by Russian oligarch Andrei Guryev.
The potential buyers reportedly are being represented by a Government senator and an ambassador.
In the meantime, there are reports that an individual named Alexander Mavrodi, from Moscow, has registered an ownership claim for the vessel, which has been docked in the Falmouth Harbour since February 2022.
George Wehner, mobilization officer of the United Progressive Party (UPP), says the manner in which the Browne Administration moved to seize the vessel leaves a lot to be desired.
The speed at which it was rushed through both Houses of Parliament does not rest well with him – and he says it could signal that something is up and there may be more to the sale of the yacht than it appears.