M/Y Galactica Star, the 213-foot (65m) Heesen launched in 2013, has been frozen after documents revealed in the Panama Papers linked its owner to a fraud investigation in Nigeria.
In a story released July 25, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported that the yacht is owned by Nigerian oil magnate Kolawole Aluko, one of four people the Nigerian government says owes the government nearly $1.8 billion on sales of oil.
The yacht is owned through a shell company that was created by the law firm Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. More than 11 million of the firm’s financial and legal documents were leaked, revealing a who’s who of the world’s wealthiest people and how they handle their money.
The law firm denied any wrongdoing.
“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 ICIJ. “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 Panama Papers reveal that in August 2015, Aluko’s Swiss wealth manager, Johnnie Ebo Quaicoe, asked the law firm to help with a $30 million mortgage.
In May, the Lagos Supreme Court granted the Nigerian government’s request for an order freezing assets linked to Aluko and three others, including the assets used to secure that loan – M/Y Galactica Star and a Manhattan apartment.
Click to read the full ICIJ report.