‘Galactica Star’ linked to Panama Papers put up for auction by US court

The 65m/ 213ft motor yacht ‘Galactica Star’ is being offered for sale in a sealed bid auction. The superyacht was seized in West Palm Beach due to possible connections to an ongoing Nigerian oil corruption scandal.

Last Thursday marked the first day of closed bidding on Heesen superyacht Galactica Star. The superyacht which is at the centre of a money-laundering and corruption scandal that was unearthed by the Panama Papers in 2016.

Reserve price $42 million

Bidding on the megayacht will close on May 19, with a reserve price of $42 million.

The superyacht was allegedly bought by Nigerian oil magnate Kolawole Aluko, who is one of four defendants accused of cheating Nigeria out of almost $1.8 billion in siphoned crude oil sales.

The US and Nigerian governments received Federal Court approval to sell the superyacht last month in Texas. According to Law360, a legal news sites, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison approved it due to high maintenance and dockage fees, estimating the combined cost to be around $170,000 per month.

“The court also finds that the yacht is subject to market value depreciation and deterioration while it remains in the government’s possession,” he adds.

Aluko is part of a circle of oil traders who are the subject of frequent media speculation in Nigeria. He is alleged to have a close relationship with Nigeria’s former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madeuke, who has been investigated for allegations of bribery and money laundering.

The U.S. government has also accused Aluko and another oil executive, Olajide Omokore, of laundering money in the United States and using it to acquire the yacht and other assets.

This is not the first time the yacht has been subject to notoriety. In 2016, she played host to Beyonce and Jay-Z on a luxury private yacht charter around the coastlines of Italy and the island of Capri. Beyonce shared plenty of snaps from the trip, which celebrated her 32nd birthday.

Galactica Star is primed for celebrity vacations, with her helipad, numerous dining areas, deck jacuzzi and expansive sundeck.