Feds Want To Seize Nigerian Playboy Kola Aluko Yacht And 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.