Captain Kidd and Henry Morgan are not amused

alfa nero editorial
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Our amateurs in high places are giving piracy a bad name. Indeed, they are a disgrace to the profession. They seized a vessel in the name of environmental protection, boarded it a la ye jolly olde swashbucklers, and hoisted the flag of this fair State, in the name of the King. Ship ahoy, they gleefully proclaimed, fantasizing about the bounty to be had. Alas! Now they are saddled with a vessel that no one wants to buy. Remember, after our first offering, there were only two serious bids – one by former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, and the other by a local consortium. There was actually a third bid, but it was way below the minimum threshold. Now, with all the legal hindrances surrounding the Alfa Nero that have surfaced since the first auction, it is not difficult to imagine that no billionaire, in possession of all his or her faculties, will bid a dime on that vessel. We appear to be stuck in Falmouth Harbour with a mounting daily expense tab, without a paddle.

Anyway, the former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, is reportedly looking to pull out of his much-ballyhooed purchase of the Alfa Nero. Here’s what ANTIGUA NEWSROOM had to say in an article dated September 2, 2023 captioned, ERIC SCHMIDT POISED TO WITHDRAW FROM ALFA NERO DEAL – SOURCES: “News reaching Real News is that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has backed out of the Alfa Nero sale, and reports have surfaced that a Cabinet member has been seeking to make millions from selling the superyacht to another party.  The . . . Administration has been silent on the matterthese past several weeks. The last time the matter purportedly wasdiscussed in the Cabinet was on July 26, as the July 27 Cabinet Notesreported holding a discussion on the sale of the Alfa Nero and thepending lawsuits. It was noted that these court challenges were delaying the finaltransfer of the vessel from the Government – the current owner – toSchmidt, who had submitted the winning bid at the June 16 auction. . . .”

Of course, there is no joy in Piratesville. After all, the loot emanating from the seizure and sale of the Alfa Nero was supposed to have already been transferred to our treasury. Some in high places had bragged that the alleged grave and present threat to our environment would be out of our waters in short order. But after the deadline for the deposit of ‘the resources’ into our treasury passed, Antiguans and Barbudans began to get antsy. So too did Schmidt who’d been exercising great patience in cutting our fumbling pirates much slack. He’d taken note of our desperation pledge to indemnify him from all legal liabilities that could arise from him taking possession of the vessel, but his lawyers cautioned against depositing the US$67.6 million into our greedy, grasping hands, never mind the indemnity. Curses! This thing was supposed to be as easy as lifting doubloons and pieces of eight from a vessel on the Spanish Main. Alas! It turns out, modern-day piracy, albeit under the cloak of an Act of Parliament and a supposedly concerned port official, is not so easy.

Now, if the reports of Schmidt’s loss of interest are true, we are forced to settle for the second highest bidder – US$66 million, and even that is not a sure bet. After all, the second-highest bidder’s lawyers might also caution him (we understand that it is a grouping of a local, well-connected family and their business entities) to wait until all the legal obstacles that turned-off Schmidt’s lawyers are resolved. When that will be, is anyone’s guess.

Piracy is a helluva thing. In fact, pirates have been known to bury their share of the loot in all sorts of secret places, and sleep with one eye open, because they have very little trust in their fellow pirates. For example, we understand that one of our pirates was trying to get his own government to pay all the fees associated with this Alfa Nero thingy, so that he could make a small fortune from the aforementioned local family entity that he is advocating for. Think, a small cut of the booty. Yes, pirates will double-cross, bad-play and one-up each other without blinking an eye. Indeed, our local pirates in high places are the real pirates of the Caribbean, never mind Captain Jack Sparrow and his cohorts aboard the notorious pirate vessel of Hollywood fame, the Black Pearl.

So where do our local pirates go from here? They are hiding-out, plotting their next move, right there in Falmouth Harbour, right in the middle of the hurricane season, with a tropical cyclone approaching. Good grief! The Alfa Nero was not supposed to be still here. Captains Kidd and Morgan are shaking their heads. Our pirates are neophytes.

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