The 65m Heesen superyacht Galactica Star has been frozen as an asset pending investigation of documents that suggest her owner Kolawole Aluko is guilty of purchasing the vessel using misdirected profits from the sale of oil in Nigeria.
The documents, which were discovered within the Panama Papers, link Aluko - a Nigerian energy magnate, and three other defendants to former Nigerian petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who has been accused of owing the Nigerian government nearly $1.8billion in unpaid fees from significant oil deals.
In a separate investigation, Aluko has also been accused of smuggling millions of dollars out of Nigeria in order to provide kickbacks to Madueke.
The sum of the assumed funds is said to be equal to the collective budgets of four Nigerian states.
Superyacht News reported that, “Following a series of accusations in the global media that painted Aluko as having amassed his riches through dubious means, Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian legal and corporate service provider at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal, certified a $30 million mortgage for an offshore company in Aluko’s name called Earnshaw Associates Limited. The loan was afforded by Banque Havilland and Galactica Star was put up as part of its collateral.”
Speaking to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Mossack Fonseca said, “Our firm, like many firms, provides worldwide registered agent services for our professional clients (e.g., lawyers, banks, and trusts) who are intermediaries.
“As a registered agent we merely help incorporate companies, and before we agree to work with a client in any way, we conduct a thorough due-diligence process, one that in every case meets and quite often exceeds all relevant local rules, regulations and standards to which we and others are bound.”
The freezing of Aluko’s assets has since been permitted by Lagos’ Supreme Court upon the request of the Nigerian government, and includes the sale of Galactica Star.
The assets of the other three suspects have also been frozen.