Editorial Staff
7 months ago

Editorial Staff
7 months ago

Gov’t Continues to Pay Alfa Nero Tab While Legal Challenges Lingers

While legal challenges continue to stymie the final sale of the Alfa Nero, the government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to foot the bill to keep the superyacht safely moored at the Falmouth Habour; which has been its home for over 15 months now

It’s costing the state a whopping $28000.00 a week to keep the floating palace tied at the harbor. That cost does not include fuel.

But the government may not be able to sustain such a hefty tab for so long since its coffers are not exactly overflowing

“We continue to make payments that are necessary in order to keep the crew and the vessel in a position that it can move, the moment that the resources are transferred to the government of Antigua and Barbuda…We hope that this is soon,” said Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Lionel Max Hurst

But the movement of the vessel is largely determined by the courts and how soon the legal issues can be resolved.

“The truth is that there are several lawsuits that are pending and, in each case, the high court has dismissed them. The court of appeal has dismissed one and the privy council has also dismissed one. We believe these are frivolous lawsuits that are intended merely to slow down the process,” Hurst said

Like many others within the government, Hurst believes that the lawsuits are nothing but delaying tactics “where the so-called owner has made an appearance after the vessels sanctions had been lifted by the US as a result of the prodding of the Antigua and Barbuda government

“We cannot see that the objective of the so-called owner is honorable. They had more than a year to claim the vessel”

There are also fears that bad weather could cause major issues not just for the vessel but for the surroundings where it is now docked.

“Antigua and Barbuda is in a hurricane belt. This is a hurricane period and we don’t want that vessel to be moored in the Falmouth Habour during that season. We think it is too dangerous in the event a hurricane visits us. We want that vessel out of there almost immediately,” Hurst added

Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, submitted a winning bid of US$67.6 million in an auction held recently however the legal troubles have made it impossible for the monies to be paid to the government

Last week the government filed a counter-appeal in the ongoing legal action, challenging the judge’s ruling that there was a serious issue to be tried on the question of whether Section 38A of the Port Authority Act—an amendment passed in early February—contradicted section nine of the Constitution which prohibits the deprivation of property without proper compensation.

However, despite all the legal woes, the government is confident that the Alfa Nero; which has been docked at the Falmoth Habour for over a year will be officially handed over to its buyer Google boss Eric Schmidt

In late June, High Court Judge Rene Williams rejected an application for an injunction to stop the sale of the luxury vessel which has been moored in Falmouth Habour for over 13 months.

All these legal twists could further delay the competition of the sale, as Schmidt was expected to transfer US$67.6 million into the government account after he won the bid during the auction.

He said several weeks ago, through his attorneys that he was awaiting the completion of the court matter before he could transfer the funds to seal the deal.

The government maintains that it is now the owner of the Alfa Nero and the legal issues are deliberate attempts to frustrate the process.

Selling the Alfa Nero hasn’t been an easy task for the government as it encountered several roadblocks along the way

On June 01, the US removed the Alfa Nero, from its sanctions list; one of the major hurdles for the government after it seized the multi-million-dollar floating island.

It was Ambassador to the United States Ronald Sanders who had been leading the effort in Washington to have the Alfa Nero removed from the List of the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) of the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

This paved the way, making the Government of Antigua and Barbuda the lawful owners

The yacht, features a 12-meter infinity pool, a Jacuzzi, a spa, a beauty room, and a helipad.

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