In what some residents still consider an ill-advised move, the Gaston Browne Administration has taken official ownership of the Alfa Nero.
The Government officially seized the vessel on Tuesday, April 11, when Port Manager Darwin Telemaque delivered the notice of seizure and possession to the crew.
The 267-foot mega yacht, which has been moored at the Falmouth Harbour Marina since last year February, was registered in the name of sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev.
In an interview with OBSERVER Media, the port manager outlined the steps that must take place before the government can sell the vessel.
He says issues pertaining to the crew must be resolved; the vessel must be maintained and sustained; discussions will have to be held with security personnel on how this State asset will be secured; and the ship will also have to be flagged.
Once those steps are completed, Telemaque says, then Government will begin the process of selecting its preferred bidder for the sale of the mega yacht.
Earlier media reports said that Telemaque, himself, was to have opened the bids this week, after a postponement from last Saturday, April 8. It is not clear whether those bids were, in fact, unsealed ahead of the steps that he has now outlined.
During last month’s sittings of the House of Parliament, the Browne Administration amended the Port Authority Act, to the disapproval of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
The amended legislation gives the port manager the right to sell by “public auction or private treaty” any ship or other seagoing vessel that has been “seized, detained or abandoned in any Antigua & Barbuda harbour, or near any Antigua & Barbuda harbour or tidal water.”
Notwithstanding the fact that other countries have seized or frozen assets belonging to sanctioned Russians, concerned residents have noted that Antigua and Barbuda is the first and only nation to have proceeded to the point of sale.