Due to sitting in Antigua’s waters since early last year, the Antigua and Barbuda government is trying to declare that Alfa Nero is “abandoned.” That will open up legal proceedings to put her up for auction, seemingly sooner rather than later.
During a cabinet meeting on March 2, government officials noted that the 269-footer (82-meter) “has been in Antiguan waters for more than a year and has remained in the same position ever since,” according to Cabinet notes. “Its staff has not been paid and neither has the provider of its fuel (that it has consumed, since arriving),” the statement adds. The government has declared her a hazard to shipping and to the harbor.
After the Cabinet meeting, Information Minister Melford Nicholas elaborated. He informed reporters that the owner effectively “abandoned” the yacht. Furthermore, he indicated that she was not under proper maintenance.
In accordance with its regulatory framework, the government must release notice of an intent to sell Alfa Nero. Specifically, if the owner fails to come forward within 10 days of that notice, it will put Alfa Nero up for auction and sell her to the highest bidder. So far, however, the government has not scheduled a date for the notice.
Notably, regardless of whether Alfa Nero is truly “abandoned,” legitimate concerns exist. For instance, she is no longer under Lloyd’s Register classification. In fact, the classification society withdrew her certificate in November of last year. Also, athough it does not indicate why, last year the Cayman Islands withdrew her flag-state status. Yachts without a flag state cannot obtain or maintain classification.
The controversy surrounding the superyacht relates to the invasion of Ukraine. Alfa Nero arrived in Falmouth Harbor last February according to Antiguan officials. Neither the yacht nor her reported ultimate beneficial owner, Andrey Guryev, was under sanctions then. However, the United States sanctioned both on August 2. The U.S. Treasury Department identifies Guryev as a known close associate of Russian President Vladmir Putin and a former government official. The European Union sanctioned him in March, with the United Kingdom following shortly after the Treasury Department. Then, last August, Antigua and Barbuda officials and U.S. FBI agents boarded Alfa Nero. They searched the yacht and questioned her crew. The Treasury Department further indicates that Guryev acquired the superyacht in 2014, and that Alfa Nero turned off her AIS to avoid seizure. AIS history confirms that her tracking went dark in March 2022.
Further noteworthy, Nicholas informed reporters that when the government puts Alfa Nero up for auction, the sales funds will remain under its control. However, he added, the United States could request access to the money.
Oceanco delivered Alfa Nero in 2007. Guryev acquired the superyacht in 2014 according to U.S. officials.