Lovell says Gov’t should have negotiated sanctions with the USA and consulted with the Opposition before acquiring yacht
Before the Browne Administration acquired the Alfa Nero, it should have sought an audience with the United States and come to an arrangement about the yacht, says Harold Lovell, former political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP).
Expressing his personal opinion, Lovell, an attorney, says the sanctioned vessel presents a significant problem to the United States; therefore, efforts should have been made to discuss the matter of sanctions and a strategy to deal with disposal of the vessel.
Lovell says that Prime Minister Gaston Browne did not handle the situation well, and he should have taken the opportunity to hold discussions with Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle, since the matter is one of national interest.
He says the haste with which the Government Bench rushed through amendments to the Port Authority Act – which authorized the sale of the vessel by the Port Authority manager – did not make sense, given the situation in which the Government now finds itself.
Although bids reportedly are being taken, the luxury yacht cannot be sold unless the sanctions on it are lifted by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Accordingly, Browne is hoping that delisting of the vessel will happen soon.
The Government claims that more than 20 bids have been received; however, the officials have not yet approved a buyer.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Finace is now paying to maintain the vessel’s staff – the sum of US$28,000 weekly – and has promised that proceeds of the sale will go toward reimbursing the Government and paying creditors.
The yacht has been docked in Falmouth Harbour since February 2022, after the United States placed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and their assets over the war being waged against The Ukraine.