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Antigua and Barbuda to auction off $81M yacht ‘owned by Russian oligarch’

Black Immigrant Daily News

An $81 million superyacht said to be owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrey Guryev is to be auctioned off by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, which claims the vessel has been abandoned in the Caribbean since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda on Monday warned the owner of the Alfa Nero superyacht that they had 10 days to claim the vessel or it would be sold to the highest bidder.

The information minister, Melford Nicholas, said Alfa Nero had been abandoned in Falmouth harbour in Antigua since February 2022 and the government was “trying to prevent a future hazard since the luxury vessel is not being maintained by its owner”.

In a statement the office of the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda said: “A notice to the newspapers and other media will be published for a period of 10 days, notifying the sale of the Alfa Nero vessel in order to satisfy the requirements under the law for a forced sale. If the owner fails to claim the vessel within that time period, the government of Antigua and Barbuda will sell it to the highest bidder.”

Guryev, 62, who made a $10bn fortune from the Russian fertiliser company PhosAgro, is the owner of Alfa Nero according to the US government, which imposed sanctions on him last year. The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it had “identified Alfa Nero, a Cayman islands flagged yacht that AG Guryev reportedly bought for $120m in 2014, as blocked property of AG Guryev”.

The yacht, which features a 12-metre infinity pool, a Jacuzzi, a spa, a beauty room and a helipad, has been used by Guryev’s family, including his son (also Andrey) and his son’s wife, Valeria, who studied at the London College of Fashion and once reportedly stated on Instagram that she was “too pretty for work”. Like many yachts, it is owned via an opaque offshore structure, and Guryev has denied being the owner.

The property is officially owned via Boradge Ltd, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Guryev’s London-based lawyers have said “Mr Guryev does not own Witanhurst”, without providing further details. Guryev’s spokesperson has previously told the New Yorker that he was a beneficiary of a trust owning the property but not the legal owner.

Last year Gibraltar auctioned off the ?65m superyacht Axioma owned by the sanctioned steel billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky. The sale of Axioma attracted controversy because it is being sold not for the benefit of the Ukrainian people but for a US investment bank, JP Morgan, which claims Pumpyansky owes it more than EUR20.5m (?17m).

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Pumpyansky was until March of 2022 the owner and chairman of the steel pipe manufacturer OAO TMK, a supplier to the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom. The UK said the billionaire, who it said had built up an estimated ?1.84bn fortune, was one of the oligarchs “closest to Putin”.

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