A $120 million Russian yacht, seized on behalf of U.S. interests as part of the sanctions imposed from the war in Ukraine, is costing the Caribbean dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda — which sports a GDP of $1.8 billion — roughly $28,000-a-week to maintain, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Christened the Alfa Nero, the football field-sized megayacht seized from Russian oligarch Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, serves as a "floating reminder of the West's economic war against Russia and the difficulties in managing and offloading billions in seized Russian assets." And "has also become a nightmare for this tiny country of 93,000," The Journal reported.
In August 2022, when calls for sanctioning Russia were kicking off, a cohort of FBI agents early one morning took control of Antigua's Falmouth Harbor, raiding the Alfa Nero. Almost six months later, back in March, the government of Antigua and Barbuda issued a warning that they planned to sell the yacht due to its "hazard" to maintain, The Guardian reported.
Soon, Antigua and Barbuda's government, the Journal continued, "decided to pass emergency legislation to seize the vessel, auction it, pay off maintenance expenses and keep the staff on board, retaining the surplus for the country's treasury. The government of Antigua petitioned the US Treasury to allow the boat to be sold, a move the US took in June."
"The chance to buy a top-class yacht at a knockdown price caused a flurry of interest. [Darwin Telemaque, the CEO of the Antigua port authority] said he got WhatsApp messages from as far afield as Algeria. [Eric] Schmidt, the former Google CEO, won the ensuing auction with a $67 million bid."
But a tangle of litigious complexities through the navigation of shell companies ultimately costs the deal its downfall.
And it's not just an island in the Caribbean that's having issues selling off sanctioned Russian assets; in Italy, last year, the Scheherazade, one of the world's largest and most expensive yachts, with alleged ties to Russian oligarchs which may even link to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, is leaving a $690 million question for how to manage it after it was sanctioned.
But as for the status of the Alfa Nero, according to 28-year-old Deidra Cochrane, an office assistant at the Antiguan marina, she says the boat is a source of gossip on the island.
People don't think the government can sell it, and if they can, they don't see how it will benefit them, she said. "It's a boat that creates a lot of scandal and opinion."
In Andrea Maccaferri, the Alfa Nero acting captain's opinion, whoever decides to set sail to the vessel, "I wouldn't be surprised if there is a submarine with a red star waiting for it."
Nick Koutsobinas, a Newsmax writer, has years of news reporting experience. A graduate from Missouri State University’s philosophy program, he focuses on exposing corruption and censorship.
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