12 Aug 2016
Galactica Star frozen
By Rory Jackson
Galactic Star, the Heesen-built 65m motoryacht, has been frozen as an asset following the emergence of documentation, discovered within the Panama Papers, that suggests her owner, Kolawole Aluko, a Nigerian energy magnate, is guilty of purchasing the vessel using misdirected profits from the sale of oil in Nigeria.
Aluko is one of four defendants linked to a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, that have been accused of owing the Nigerian government nearly $1.8 billion in unpaid fees from significant oil deals. In a separate on-going investigation, Aluko is also accused of smuggling millions of dollars out of Nigeria in order to provide kickbacks to Madueke.
The sum of these, apparently, misappropriated funds, is equal to the collective budgets of four Nigerian states and would have been able to cater for nearly 13 million Nigerian citizens.
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.
“Our firm, like many firms, provides worldwide registered agent services for our professional clients (e.g., lawyers, banks, and trusts) who are intermediaries,” Mossack Fonseca told the Interntional Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “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.”
Lagos’ Supreme Court has since permitted the freezing of Aluko’s assets, including Galatica Star, upon the request of the Nigerian government. The assets of the other three subjects have also been frozen.
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