In a recent development, a High Court judge in Antigua and Barbuda has made a significant ruling regarding the sale of the superyacht Alfa Nero.
The judge has allowed two applicants to file for a judicial review, challenging the decision made by the Port Authority to sell the vessel.
However, the same judgment also gives the green light for the sale of Alfa Nero to continue.
The US$81 million yacht has been under the spotlight since its arrival in Antiguan waters over a year ago.
Ambassador to the US, Sir Ronald Sanders, announced on June 1 that the Alfa Nero, allegedly owned by sanctioned Russian businessman Andrey Guryev, is no longer considered “blocked property,” paving the way for its sale.
Antigua and Barbuda are keen to remove the superyacht from Falmouth Harbour, citing concerns about its impact on the environment and other yachts, particularly with the peak hurricane season approaching.
Court documents reveal that Vita Felice Ltd claims ownership of several artworks on board the vessel, while BVI-registered firm Flying Dutchman Overseas Ltd asserts ownership of the boat.
Both entities are said to be managed by Opus Private Ltd, a Guernsey-based fiduciary services company led by CEO Shane Giles.
Flying Dutchman and Vita Felice applied on May 22 to prevent the sale of Alfa Nero, raising concerns of procedural unfairness and the non-applicability of sanctions.
The applicants argued that the Port Authority and the government refused to engage with them regarding the vessel’s fate, emphasizing the need for fairness in the sale process.
The judgment acknowledges that the Port Authority Act does not explicitly impose a duty on the Port Authority to engage with potential owners of abandoned vessels.
However, the judge suggests that such engagement is implied in the interest of fairness.
The court papers reveal that attempts were made by the applicants’ representatives to contact the Attorney General prior to the sale, but these efforts were reportedly unsuccessful.
The judgment also addresses concerns raised by the applicants regarding the vessel’s sanction status. They questioned the nature and extent of any imposed sanctions.
The judge concluded that these issues should be determined in the substantive hearing of the claim.
While the court refused to halt the sale process, it considered the potential environmental damage and other risks posed by the vessel.
The judgment does not clarify the impact of the vessel’s sanction status, leaving this to be determined in the substantive hearing.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque confirmed that permission has been granted to proceed with the sale, emphasizing the aim to liquidate the asset in order to protect the environment.
Attorney Andrew O’Kola, representing the applicants, was not available for comment at the time of reporting.
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