By Stephanie Baker
(Bloomberg) – The U.S. Treasury Department has removed an abandoned $120 million Russian superyacht from its sanctions list, clearing the way for the vessel to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The 267-foot Alfa Nero, Equipped with a small grand piano and a Miro painting, it was abandoned in Falmouth Harbor in Antigua in March 2022 after Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Last year, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on Russian fertilizer billionaire Andrey Guryev, naming him as the owner of Alpha Black, a claim the magnate denies.
Faced with a mountain of unpaid bills, the Antigua government formally impounded the superyacht in April and asked the US Treasury to lift sanctions on the ship so it could sell it.
The delisting “underscores the United States’ commitment to working closely with international partners to strip Russian oligarchs and elites of their assets and the returns on their wealth,” a Treasury Department spokesman said in a statement.
Since the war began in February 2022, the US and its allies have imposed sanctions on dozens of wealthy Russians, resulting in more than two dozen superyachts worth around $4 billion being frozen in ports around the world.
The US said Guryev allegedly bought Alpha Black in 2014 for $120 million and last August, along with local law enforcement, sent FBI agents to search the ship. A lawyer for Guryev said he does not own the superyacht but has used it “from time to time” since 2014.
Antiguan officials said they have already received 20 offers Alpha Black, This will be the first Russian-linked superyacht to be freed from US sanctions and sold at auction. Antigua Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin told Bloomberg the government would keep the proceeds for “domestic purposes” and not share them with Ukraine.
Bills have been piling up since Antigua officially impounded the superyacht in April. Crew costs alone add up to $112,000 per month. The normal crew of 44 people was reduced to six. According to Craig Jacas, a local attorney representing them, 25 members have sued to recover $2.1 million in unpaid wages.
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