By Robert A Emmanuel
Leader of the Opposition, Jamale Pringle said that his party’s opposition to the amendments passed last week in Parliament to the Port Authority Act was due to concern over its far-reaching implications.
Pringle who led a walkout of Opposition MPs in Parliament on March 16, spoke to Observer media in further detail last week Friday at his Party’s protest march.
The amendments were made, according to the government, to facilitate the auction sale of sanctioned superyacht, Alfa Nero, which is believed to owned by Russian oligarch, Andrey Guryev, who was sanctioned by the US and its international allies in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pringle said that the amendment has long-reaching consequences beyond the proposed sale of the sanctioned vessel.
“It is a Bill that our lawyers are looking at, which make the situation complicated, because even if you acquire someone’s property, they are given 30 days [and] in this case, they are giving the person 10 days to come forward.
“After we went through the bill, if a bank overseas lends an individual some money to purchase a boat and they come into Antiguan waters…for whatever reason, the government has the power to seize that boat. What is that going to do to our yachting sector?” Pringle asked.
The government, in response to the Opposition MP walkout, said that the amendments needed to be made quickly to the Port Authority Act in order to prevent a deteriorating situation as the remaining crew aboard the vessel reportedly told Prime Minister Gaston Browne that they were planning on leaving the 267ft vessel.
The luxury charter yacht has been moored in Falmouth Harbour for over a year, incurring debts such as salaries to the crew, as well as fuel and maintenance costs, which was being provided by marina organisations in the area.
Pringle said that if the amendment was as vital and as urgent as the government claimed it to be, the Opposition should have been given due notice in order for it to receive bipartisan support.
He argued that the government should have shared any information or consultative research with the Opposition that they had prior to arriving at the decision, insisting that staying in the Parliament would have made no difference without those details.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has sought to debunk any claim that Alexander Mavrodi was the beneficial owner of the superyacht.
Mavrodi reportedly came forward to local news media, Real News.
Observer media has yet to independently confirm the allegations, and reached out to Mavrodi for comment.
The Prime Minister said that Mavrodi has not reached out to the government through the proper channels, nor has he presented legal documents to prove his claim of ownership, and the claim was sent to the Opposition UPP to stall the auction.
A similar situation occurred in Fiji when a Russian-owned superyacht, The Amadea, was contested in the Fijian court between its owner and US officials, as well as the crew refusing to sail.
The US claimed the Amadea was owned by sanctioned gold mining billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, but a Fijian lawyer for the holding company to which the ship was registered claimed the true owner was Eduard Khudainatov, a Russian oil executive who was sanctioned by the European Union on June 4.
He has not been sanctioned by the US, according to the American media outlet, CBS news.