The government of Antigua and Barbuda is willing to negotiate with the second-highest bidder for the Alfa Nero superyacht, Warren Halle, but not under a legal dispute.
Lionel Hurst, Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, stated in Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing that negotiations with Halle would be on different terms, which have not been determined yet.
Halle filed a lawsuit against the government in July, claiming that he had been unfairly denied the right to acquire the Alfa Nero vessel.
According to the June auction agreement, Halle should have acquired the boat after the winning bidder failed to send the funds within seven days.
Halle’s lawsuit seeks USD $ 5,683,000 in damages for breach of contract and outstanding payments related to his attempt to secure the yacht.
Hurst acknowledged that the government views some of the claims made in Halle’s lawsuit as “unjustified,” but he refrained from providing further details, stating that discussing the matter publicly could damage their legal position.
He emphasized that the government wants to sell the former Russian-owned vessel promptly, despite the legal dispute.
Hurst explained that the government’s priority is to ensure that all the liabilities incurred by the vessel since being moored in Antigua and Barbuda can be addressed by the sale price and that some leftover funds for the difficulties faced by the country will be forthcoming.
He also addressed concerns about the safety of the Alfa Nero during the peak hurricane month of September, stating that the vessel’s current mooring location at Falmouth Harbour is secure and has a 24-hour watch.
However, as the vessel remains moored for an extended period, concerns about its gradual deterioration persist.
Last Thursday, Port Manager Darwin Telemaque disclosed that the Alfa Nero had undergone a short sea trial following repairs, and the captain was conducting tests to assess the vessel’s mobility in preparation for adverse weather conditions.
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt submitted the winning bid for the vessel in the June 16 auction, offering US$67.6 million.
He later withdrew the bid due to ongoing legal delays. Halle had submitted a slightly lower bid of US$66 million.
The Alfa Nero was acquired by the government in April, after being abandoned in the country’s waters for more than a year.
The government currently bears the expenses related to the vessel, including fuel and crew members’ salaries, for US$28,000 per week.
The sale continues to be contested in court, with Yulia Guryeva-Motlokhov claiming to be the yacht’s rightful owner.
Guryeva-Motlokhov asserts ownership through a trust that holds a 100 percent share in the BVI-based firm, Flying Dutchman Limited.