Antigua Faces Dilemma


In normal circumstances, the Eastern Caribbean nation of Antigua would do its best to avoid being in the middle of cold war-like politics but the presence of a Russian-owned superyacht in one of its key marinas for the past year is doing just that, causing major disquiet in parliament and in the federation with Barbuda’s cabinet.

At center of issue is a spirited, if not hurried, effort by the Gaston Browne administration to dispose of the yacht through international tendering, but lawmakers are divided as to who will exactly own the proceeds of the 269-foot Alfa Nero vessel which has been sitting in the Falmouth Harbor ever since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine last year. It is reportedly owned by businessman Andrey Guryev.

Its owners sanctioned by the US and other western nations after the invasion, the vessel has been left tied up in the harbor but now there is some amount of panic in official circles as to what exactly to do with it as it is uninsured, poses a risk to other expensive assets in the bay and has a malfunctioning sewage system that has forced the five-man crew to simply dump waste into the sea.

The result is that authorities have rushed to parliament to tidy up legislation to allow for the legal sale of the vessel.

PM Browne says sale proceeds should go to the consolidated fund and be used for national development. Opposition lawmakers say that the global geopolitical situation could change overnight and its previous owners and assigns could come calling, demanding money from the sale of the vessel.

The best thing, they argue, would be to put the money in an escrow account until the political dust settles rather than have to pay it back if the government makes a wrong move.

Browne told parliament in the past week that there have been several international offers for the $81 million vessel, with the best being $50 million so far. The Observer newspaper says the luxury yacht carries an on-board hair salon and high-end spa as well as a 12-metre infinity pool that can be converted to a helipad or dance floor.

Browne says he fears a fire or any other mishap in the marina could damage this aspect of federation tourism so he wants this entire nightmare to end quickly as reputational damage could accrue.

“Anything could go wrong. Maybe some of the doors could open and start to take on water and it sinks. There could be a fire. In fact, I am told the insurance of the marina could be affected because we have an uninsured vessel sitting in the marina and is a risk to other boats. We are talking about billions of dollars of assets in that harbor. And you can imagine if that vessel was to catch fire what will happen,” he told the house. He says the island draws water from the same area for the desalination plant where sewage is being dumped into the river because the onboard system is not working “so this issue is a significant threat.”

As an indication of the level of disquiet and difference in approaches to this issue, Senate Minority Leader Shawn Nicholas fears a rush to dispose of the Alfa Nero could backfire on a small developing nation such as Antigua in the near future.

“We have to understand that we have a number of conventions that we have to make sure that we adhere to. This is a major international case. The eyes of the world are on the nation. Who gave us the moral authority to think that the money that we have should go into our consolidated fund? We do not know what will become of this. The war is still on. What if we were to sell and then sanctions are taken upon us? Are we in a position to defend ourselves? I just want to suggest that we are in uncharted waters and we shouldn’t be rushing through this amendment,” she cautioned.

Opposition lawmakers had walked out of the assembly on Monday, complaining that they had only been given two hours to read proposed new legislation to legally effect the sale.

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  1. This man’s desperate decision making regarding this Russian owned super yacht will eventually come back and bite Antigua on the backside.

    How on earth did Gaston Browne think that doing this drastic action would benefit us against the might of the Russians (or maybe he’s done it for more self-enrichment?!).

    I have no idea who has advised the Prime Minister to do this – or is he winging it on his own once more?

    I didn’t think this man could come up with anymore ridiculous moves, especially after the destabilising airline fiasco.


    • Gaylord Brixton stop getting excited over the word backside … Is like u just love being a man whore … Bro get to f………… Off of posting for a while .. live your life kiss your grand kids .. love your wife if u have any … Drop the political shit … 5 more years of you being miserable not going to help your cause .. you die Tonite and the upp would even remember who u are … Bro just chill .. stop being a dick sucker … U old fart.. cock sucker

      • Are you SCHIZOPHRENIC @ Curious, recently you say how you agree with a couple of my comments, and now you are disagreeing with my comments.

        You need medical attention … urgently!

        NURSE!!! 💉

        • This is why I enjoy these ANR threads so much … thanks to ignorant unintelligible people like the down and out, and downtrodden @ Curious.

          Were you at the back of the world queue when the good Lord was handing out brains? 🧠

          MUST BE … 😁

    • People here love vote for Porkston Browne just to get their ham, turkey, microwave and all the rest come election time. Now they can enjoy eating and living the backlash that comes from their beloved Porkston Browne. When he done with his run, he will take all his illicit funds and let all the ass kissers live in poverty. They all get what they voted for and deserve.

  2. I can’t understand how these numskull labour politicians, their leader and followers think that the owner of a multimillion dollar yacht would allow the Antiguan government to sell their yacht and pocket the proceeds. They probably think this is Stanford properties and Antigua and Barbuda lands that end up in the hands of politicians and their children. When you sell the yacht and pocket the money, you better stay away from foreign countries. And we know how are you like to fly all over the place. Anyway I heard someone showed in Antigua to claim ownership.
    On another note, Colin Browne was in the senate talking about all the mansions he observed sailing around Antigua with another senator. In his view, this shows the high level of foreign investments in Antigua. I would like to ask Colin who owns these mansions. Certainly not Antiguans. I will tell him what Antiguans own. All the house keeping and property maintenance jobs. And Colin and his leader think this is development.

    • Colin na lib no way and worthless like shit, he’s an ass kisser just like Troy, Lamin. and the opportunist Driftwood

  3. Gaston has played with the wrong set of people. He should take care when shaking hands and avoid people with umbrellas. In case he needs reminding, the Russian, specialises with the use of deadly nerve chemicals!!!

    He should not forget that they used an umbrella to poison someone on the streets of London, one of their former spy and his daughter were poisoned in Aylesbury UK. One of their oligarchs was poisoned and subsequently died in the UK.

    Gaston don’t be like King Nebuchadnezzar! Heed the warnings that are displayed before your eyes. You have spoilt Antigua, do the honourable thing and resigned and escape the impending doom that await you.

    Alternatively, just one of your Minister with a conscience should vote with the opposition and return a vote of no confidence in GB.

    Politicians save Antigua!! Antiguans living in the disepora are resigning of not returning to live in Antigua, it is a disgraced that nationals no longer sees Antigua as their home to retire.

    • All that Glitter is not GOLD.
      ALLl de Story not Being TOLD
      Strong Opposition Stronghold.
      Lots of Head a a ROLL

  4. @Bristonian, never mind @Curious. Sound amazingly like our social media addict and a full fledged cool-aid drinker, and all the names he adopts in this forum. When you don’t agree with this idiot, he resorts to profanity and name calling. The man is a known thug and can never leave the gutter from whence he came.
    Gaston Browne, you are messing with the wrong people. Your greed knows no bound, but perhaps one of the spineless cronies you have around you with their head up your behind, can advise you to stand down from this mistake. You seriously think these Russians will sit by idly and allow you to auction of their superyacht? Dude, these people make your 300 million or whatever you claim look like trump change. Their billions give them some long reach. And don’t forget, they are Putin’s bank of supporters. Be advised, man. Leave it the hell alone.

  5. For everyone who actually thinks that this sale will end well, you need to check the history of dealing with Russians. Whether you are a Laborite or not, you should have enough sense to know that once sold, these monies better be saved up for the owner and/or his people. They will not rest until they get what’s theirs and if it means getting rid of people for them to feel satisfied, they will do it. Mr PM…… mek de nearga sudden lone. A best you ge um way to somebady and mek de owna deal wid who hab um. Na sell um cause dem go come fu dem money or kill fu um. Arwe na need dis inna arwe country.

  6. I say sell it!!

    When the owner left it here what was put in place? As far as I know the crew isn’t even being paid. Where is the owner anyway and has anyone tried to contact him to ask him WTF is his plan for the yacht? No reponse? Tow the damn thing to international waters and let the Americans pick it up!

    In any event, he will probably just buy another.

  7. Antigua and its citizens are so much better off with Porkston Browne as the PM. You voted her in again and now you have a little less than 5 years to vote her back in again. Hope she gives you some of the money from the sale.

    What is comforting to know about these Russians, when someone pisses them off, they will poison you just like that and no one will know who did it.

  8. Lets me straight. The Government are profiteering off assets that have been placed on a foreign sanctions list! Not even powerful EU countries or the US have changed their laws to confiscate “frozen” Russian assets, because to do so would be illegal, immoral and be seen as outright theft in the eyes of the world! The environment argument doesn’t require a confiscation of assets, a forced sale of said assets and the appropriation of the sale proceeds of said assets by the Government. The unpaid bills argument is a private and civil matter. Again, not something that requires the confiscation of assets, a forced sale of said assets and the appropriation of the sale proceeds of said assets by the Government. The Government’s stated ambition is to confiscate and sell the Alfa Nero, which has a reported value of approximately US100m to can settle debts of less than US1m, and to keep the rest of the proceeds for itself! If that is not immoral or outright theft then I don’t know what else is! Forget the owner is purportedly a Russian (if you hate Russia and all things Russian). We must defend private property rights and the rule of law. What if the sanctioned individual owned private property in Antigua but could pay for its upkeep or its utility bills? By the Government’s own arguments, it would have a right to cease and confiscate the property so that it could pay off the utility bills and then pocket the money in the treasury! Does that sound right to you? What is next? Where will the line be drawn?

    The ongoing saga of Alfa Nero’s current predicament, and fate, has grabbed international headlines for the past year. With the US’ role a mere subplot in the media, all eyes (and in particular those of investors and partners) are on Antigua and Barbuda and its Government, with potentially dire and long-lasting consequences for our rule of law, private property rights, the economy and investment climate. Not only that (as if that weren’t enough to worry about), optically, how would it look to the outside world? An outside world amid great change as more and more countries are beginning to act more independently and in their own interests (rather than bowing to the will of other more powerful countries). Mr Browne should take heed. These countries have politicians, leaders, prominent business people. What if they and/or their assets end up on the hegemon’s sanctions list? Will they take heed of the Government’s decision to amend laws so that it can confiscate private property “on a sanctions list” and decide not to ever step foot again on the island or bring or purchase property or do business in Antigua?

    If Alfa Nero does indeed belong to Mr. Guryev, then she is not subject to US sanctions, as she is in Antigua and Barbuda, not in the US. As a sovereign nation, we have no obligation to abide by the US’ political and legislative decisions. This is the correct legal position and one that has been taken by most countries that have found themselves hosting US-sanctioned Russian assets. As such, any compliance by Antigua and Barbuda is entirely voluntary. However, compliance does not equate to confiscation of assets. Compliance does not require a change in laws to allow the confiscation of assets and the appropriation by the Government of the sale proceeds. Only real sanctions, and not apparent sanctions should matter; and those sanctions should be sanctions imposed by Antigua and Barbuda, not those of a foreign state.

    With this in mind, it appears that Government has rushed legislative changes so that in the context of “apparent sanctions”, “abandonment” or “economic and environmental risks”, confiscation and appropriation would be permitted. This has frightening implications for all private property in Antigua and Barbuda.

    As a nation, we have a choice. To be the willing enabler of US dictate (and be seen as profiteering from the sanctions), diminishing our standing in this new multi polar world that is emerging, or to stand by our own laws and economic interests as an independent and sovereign state. If we go for the money, it will come back to haunt us. It will reinforce old stereotypes “why you can’t trust doing business in any banana republic cause it’s the law of the jungle down there”. The real owner armed with their lawyers, the banks, the financiers, the third parties with their liens and security interests and contracts to boot will come for their boat. By then the money will be long gone and the Government of the day will be left holding the bag and we the people, the taxpayers will suffer.

    If US sanctions have stranded Alfa Nero in our waters, the US should pay for its upkeep and debts. If not, the US should issue a clarification that Alfa Nero is not sanctioned and facilitate all actions needed to get her on her way and out of our waters to then become someone else’s headache. If not, we, Antiguans, should do our best to stay out of it! Take steps by all means to better secure the boat from an environmental disaster but don’t confiscate the boat and pocket all the proceeds as if the boat belongs to you because you passed a local Act of Parliament! That does not negate legal claims of ownership! If British Airways 777 landed in Antigua and one day Parliament passed a law to say they going to seize it and claim ownership, do you think that would negate British Airways claim of ownership rights, or negate a Bank’s lien or security interest? Lets call a spade a spade. This is wrong and we will have to answer for it!

    The Alfa Nero has been a regular and loyal visitor to the shores of Antigua and Barbuda. She, her crew and her guests have made notable contributions to our local economy and yachting industry for many years. She is our respectful guest and should be treated as such. And we should respect our own laws, principles and ourselves when navigating troubled waters, especially when those troubled waters are not of our making and have nothing to do with us. We can be respectful to all sides in this dispute, but we must first respect ourselves and our principles.

    – A concerned Antiguan

    • Thanks for their regular visits and their charitable contributions. Much appreciated!

      Now sell the Nero and collect!

      We always a bow down to white people as soon as they do something good. God will repay them for their good deeds. Give thanks and God will do the rest because he sees behind the scenes.

      To the victor goes the spoils. Thanks Nero.

  9. I agreed initially with the opposition to put the funds into an escrow if they sell it, but I thought deeper about it and said, no use it for the betterment of the country. To the victor goes the spoils.

    But a few more things to take into consideration. If it has the potential to become a liability, then you must get rid of it fast. The potential for fire and harm other people’s property, plus one of the tourism cash cow is at risk for slowing revenue? It is a no-brainer on what should be done.

    If I have a car at my mechanic shop for a certain period of time after it was repaired and I abandoned it, the mechanic can legally put a lien on it to recuperate the funds owed to him. Which means selling it and take his money, if he can’t find you you can loose the car and your money.

    Since it is not free to stay docked in the harbor, have they incurred enough money owed to the authorities to justify selling it and recoup the money owed? That is perfectly legal and a billionaire understands that is business and Antigua has no other choice. This 81 million dollars is nothing for a billionaire. We are making too much of this because of the narrative painted by the media about Russians and even their reputation. The Russians are not looking for a dot on the map to do anything, their beef is with the big bad wolf, USA.

    Sell it and give the people a little stimulus, so all citizens can go eat and drink on a billionaire. That billionaire understands, he’s a business man.

    To the Victor Go the Spoils! A great businessman seizes an opportunity when it is in front of him all the time, and that’s how they become billionaires. The opposition should be championing this deal but ask for an economic stimulus for all citizens.

    When the government impound your car for not paying whatever fines and after a certain time auction it, is it wrong for them to do? Have you ever buy a car at the auction?

  10. Do you really think if it’s sold, it will benefit the Antiguan people with a stimulus? Or are you just being funny?

    • Mr. B, I’m being serious, but I certainly understand your pesimistic view about my comments. We only seem to provide stimulus during election time which is more like election gimmick, so I get it.

      The opposition only way of debating this is to worry about some war and its future outcome?

      The opposition should stimulate conversations even if they use it in a humourous way. But what do you think about how this should be handled?

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