Nigerian fugitive and New York playboy Kola Aluko, who is wanted for his role in a $1.76 billion oil scam, may be hiding in plain sight on his $80 million yacht in Mexico, sources told tell Naija247news.
American tourists at a swanky resort in Playa Mujeres spied the 213-foot yacht, which dwarfed the other boats, docked in a local marina. They also noted the vessel’s bold name, Galactica Star.
“We were curious to find out more about the yacht, so we looked it up,” one tourist told our correspondent.
Besides the boat, Aluko also owns a sprawling $50 million penthouse on West 57th Street’s “Billionaire’s Row,” which the feds want to seize.
He once courted Naomi Campbell and partied with Leonardo DiCaprio. He is also known for spending $1.5 million on champagne.
According to a Department of Justice civil suit, Aluko and a pal bribed Nigeria’s former oil minister in return for lucrative contracts. They allegedly used the proceeds to buy $144 million in assets.
Under the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the feds have filed a civil forfeiture action to seize the Galactica Star, which Aluko once rented to Jay-Z and Beyoncé for $900,000 a week, according to the Daily Beast.
The yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and flies under the British flag. It comes with its own helipad, outdoor Jacuzzi and plenty of space for dancing and dining.
Beyoncé celebrated her 32nd birthday on the yacht in 2013.
A DOJ spokesperson said the department “can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.”
Earlier in the year, Naija247news reported that Mr Aluko who has courted Naomi Campbell and celebrated a birthday with Leonardo DiCaprio was targeted in a federal lawsuit aiming to seize his $80 million yacht and his $50.9 million One57 penthouse.
The suit claims the yacht, which Aluko once rented to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, and the full-floor penthouse apartment on Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row were bought in a money-laundering scheme by frauds who bribed Nigeria’s oil minister.
But the feds will have to get in line.
The 6,240-square-foot condo on the 79th floor of 157 W. 57th St. is in foreclosure. Aluko hasn’t paid the mortgage, and the bank that lent him $35.3 million to buy the pad is forcing a sale, the city’s biggest foreclosure ever.
The four-bedroom, four-bath condo also has liens on it of more than $20,000, and owes $61,000 in taxes to the city as of July 1.
The apartment is due to go to auction Wednesday.
Nigerian authorities in February tried to freeze Aluko’s assets, including the apartment and the yacht, as part of the money-laundering probe.
The 48-year-old energy tycoon, whose full name is Kolawole Akanni Aluko, is accused of financing his high-flying lifestyle with money generated from a $1.76 billion scheme to defraud the Nigerian government of oil sale profits.
The scam allegedly involved millions of dollars in bribes to former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who oversaw the state-owned oil company.
The federal lawsuit — a civil forfeiture action filed in Houston — claims that Aluko and another Nigerian oilman named Olajide Omokore conspired with others to pay bribes to Alison-Madueke.
In return, the minister steered contracts from a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corp to shell companies owned by Aluko and Omokore.
Despite being unqualified and in some instances performing no services at all, the companies received more than $1.5 billion through the sale of crude oil, the lawsuit said.
The Justice Department’s suit said Aluko and Omokore laundered their illicit revenue by buying $144 million in assets, including the One57 condo and the yacht.
Alison-Madueke was charged with money laundering in Nigeria, the country’s financial crimes agency said in April. She has denied wrongdoing. Aluko also previously denied the accusations.
Aluko was last seen in public offshore of the ill-fated Fyre Festival in the Bahamas in April. Since then, he’s been on the lam, and may be hiding out on the 213-foot yacht.
The boat, registered in the Cayman Islands, was last tracked in the Caribbean in early May. It’s now listed as “out of range,” by a worldwide ship locator.
The Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland, which issued the mortgage on the One57 condo, seeks to collect what it’s owed plus interest, court papers say. It is unclear how the feds and the bank might divvy up the auction proceeds.
With Post Wire Services