US Treasury removes sanctions on abandoned Russian superyacht for auction.

Abandoned Russian superyacht to be auctioned off after sanctions are lifted
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The United States Treasury Department has removed a $120m abandoned Russian superyacht from its sanctions list. The move clears the way for the vessel, the 267-foot Alfa Nero, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Equipped with a small grand piano and a Miro painting, the yacht was abandoned in Falmouth Harbour 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 that he denies.

Faced with a significant amount of unpaid bills, the Antigua government officially impounded the superyacht in April and asked the US Treasury to lift sanctions on the ship so that it could be sold. Antiguan officials have said they have already received 20 offers for 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 has told Bloomberg that the government would keep the proceeds for “domestic purposes” and not share them with Ukraine.

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 $4bn being frozen in ports around the world. Crew costs alone have been adding up for the Alfa Nero, with bills in arrears of $112,000 per month. The normal crew of 44 people had been reduced to six. According to Craig Jacas, a local attorney representing them, 25 members have sued to recover $2.1m in unpaid wages.

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