Notice was inadequate and processes unfair, Bowen says of Government’s hurry to sell ‘abandoned’ super yacht

Attorney-at-law and Member of Parliament (MP) Sherfield Bowen says the Gaston Browne Administration did not follow already established procedures in its quest to take possession of the Russian-owned yacht Alfa Nero.

Instead of going through forfeiture proceedings, the Government moved to amend the Port Authority Act, which makes provision for better security of ports and harbours, to give it the right to seize any vessel facing international sanctions that has been left stranded in the country’s waters.

The amended Act also gives the Government the authority to dispose of such a vessel via sale, after a notice period of 10 days, and to keep the proceeds in spite of any liens that might be attached to the vessel.

Once the Bill has been gazetted and becomes law, then the vessel can be auctioned.

But Bowen says the Browne Administration should have sought to get title of the property, in a fair process, first, before attempting to dispose of it.

He says that 10 days’ notice of intention to sell is not sufficient and it appears to be a shortcut for the Government to secure some money.

According to the St. Phillip South MP, the Government seems desperate for money.  He notes that other countries have also seized assets of Russian oligarchs, but have not embarked on a process to sell them and make money.

He says this Administration is acting in haste in order to meet its monthly financial obligations.

The Government, according to reports, has already initiated the process to sell the super yacht by publishing a notice in the official Gazette.  The notice will also be carried in several international newspapers in the coming days.

This is an effort to inform the owner of the vessel that – if he fails to take all necessary steps to remove the yacht from Falmouth Harbour – it will be sold by the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority.

The notice reportedly states that the vessel is not being maintained by the owner, nor an agent on his behalf, and poses a threat to the environment; to the health and safety of persons using the harbour;

and to the safety and security of other vessels at that location.

The Government is claiming that the vessel – which has been moored at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina since February 2022 – has been abandoned, as defined by Section 3 of the Port Authority (Amendment) Act, 2023.

Reports say the Alfa Nero – owned by Russian oligarch Andrei Guryev – is valued at US$81 million.  Proceeds from the sale will be placed in the Consolidated Fund.