The government has justified a decision to remove the Alfa Nero from Antiguan waters, saying that the superyacht has already been plagued with several issues including a non-functional sewage system.
The boat which has been docked at the Falmouth Habour for over a year now will be auctioned by the government soon. The 269-footer yacht owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev has remained in the same position ever since.
Chief Executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority Darwin Telemaque said the boat needs to be removed and placed in the hands of someone who can properly address its many issues.
He said the vessel is a major threat to the country’s marine life and waterways and the tourism sector could also be placed at great risk if the superyacht remains here much longer.
“The complexity of the ship is showing up. It’s not moving. We knew this was going to happen eight months ago when we sat with the captain. He told us if we don’t turn on the engines, keep the fuel going …if we don’t turn on the lights regularly it won’t work anymore”, he said,
Telemaque said the issue is not getting someone to move it but no one can repair the issues on that yacht.
“Therefore it is a challenge for us where it sits right now and the most appropriate thing to do would be to hand that problem over to someone who can take it, repair it, and own it…I think that’s the most prudent step to take” he added.
The boat was abandoned after the United States imposed sanctions on Guryev, 62, who made a $10bn fortune from the Russian fertilizer company PhosAgro. Guryev is a known close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a former government official
However, there are reports that Guryev, who has been also put under UK government sanctions, claims he is not the owner of Alfa Nero. The government has been asking for someone to claim the vessel to no avail.
Whichever way, Telemaque said if the owners of the Alfa Nero came to the port authority and asked that the yacht remains in Falmouth Habour for a few years, the answer would be no.
“We are not going to compromise our maritime space. We need it for our survival…” he added.
Meantime Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the Alfa Nero remaining moored on Falmouth Habour is a major disaster waiting to happen.
“This issue is a significant hazard, to the social-economic interest of the people of Antigua and Barbuda. The yachting sector contributes more to our economy than the cruise tourism sector,” he added
Parliament amended the Antigua Port Authority Act to allow the government to proceed with the sale of the super yacht. These adjustments also ensured that the Alfa Nero cannot be sold to any other sanctioned individual.
Browne said the ship had a market value of USD$81 million a recent survey conducted a few weeks ago revealed that the yacht is now worth about USD$48 million. “I guarantee that 48 million will fall to 40,” he said.
“We have bids even before we went to parliament and many of them are becoming very frustrated. They want to settle because they are looking for a deal… We have had offers in the region of USD 50 million…If they come back two months later, they will drop the offer from 50 to 30 million. The longer you stay to settle the less money you will get…” he said
Meanwhile, Browne has said there are two potential buyers of the Russian-sanctioned Alfa Nero and a local commission agency is involved in the sale.
“I got a good offer from a Russian and we had to exclude that person. We placed it in the law that we are not selling to any Russians. And even though that person is not sanctioned, based on the amount of money involved we can conclude that this person is a Russian oligarch”, he said
The yacht, features a 12-meter infinity pool, a Jacuzzi, a spa, a beauty room, and a helipad. There was over 40 crew on the yacht. It is now down to five.