The United Progressive Party (UPP) is not surprised that the actual
transfer of money from the sale of the Alfa Nero has not yet made it
into the Government’s coffers.
General-Secretary Shawn Nicholas says the Party was expecting this,
given the number of unsettled court challenges the transaction
faces. She notes that the sale is a sensitive issue that should be
handled very carefully, since international eyes are on Antigua and
Nicholas, who is also the Senate minority leader, recalls her
proposal when the Upper House debated the amendment to the Port
Authority Act, which allowed the Browne Administration to acquire
and then sell the vessel.
At that time, she suggested that the proceeds of the Alfa Nero sale
should be placed in an escrow account until all claims were sorted
out – a position she still maintains.
Unfortunately, however, this is not the Government’s intention,
Nicholas says. Rather, she notes, there appears to be a great deal of
anxiety about the payment, since the Administration is saying it
wants the money and wants it now.
Senator Nicholas says the Administration should have envisioned
these challenges, and not been so hasty to sell the disputed vessel
and benefit from a windfall.
By way of an auction, the superyacht was purchased on June 16 by
former Google CEO Eric Schmidt for the sum of US$67.6 million.
Those funds should have been paid into the Treasury within seven
working days, which ended on Tuesday, June 27.
However, reports say that Schmidt has been advised by his lawyers
not to pay until pending court matters are concluded, and the
Cabinet has therefore agreed to wait.