Nigeria’s Fugitive Oil Mogul, Kola Aluko sighted hiding in Hong Kong in his 213-foot yacht Galactica Starowing
He lives life to its pinnacle, as if there is no tomorrow. He acquired properties around the globe, from Switzerland to New York, Los Angeles to London, bought three private jets, 58 cars and a yacht named the Galactica Star. He hung with movers and shakers in the Hollywood industry. He was always in the spotlight with American celebrities. But unknown to many, Kolawole Aluko, who preferred to be called ‘Kola’ by fans, admirers had allegedly squandered funds illegally made from proceeds of money laundering having been accused by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of pocketing $1.8 billion meant for government coffers and spending it on luxury goods around the globe.
By next month, Banque Havilland, a European Bank based in Luxembourg will sell off through auction the controversial 79th floor penthouse in Manhattan New York, owned by Nigerian oil mogul, Kola, for financial crisis, already declared wanted by EFCC. The sale would be the biggest in New York city in recent times.
Banque Havilland reportedly said “We have issued a $35.3 million mortgage on the 6,240-square-foot spread at 157 E. 57th St., listed as collateral Aluko’s 213-foot yacht, the Galactica Star, and we are looking to collect what it’s owed us plus interest, going by court documents.”
An auction is scheduled for July 19. It’s the second time in about a month that a lender filed to seize property at One57 after a mortgage default. The tower, on a Midtown strip known as Billionaires’ Row for its sky-high condo prices, still holds the record for the most-expensive residential sale in New York, at $100.5 million.
Top security sources in EFCC echoed: “Aluko is a WANTED MAN. Nigeria’s Federal High Court had already issued worldwide assets’ freeze tied to Aluko, since last year including his luxury homes in New York, Los Angeles and London, three private jets, 58 cars and a yacht named the Galactica Star. He can only run, but cannot hide. He’s a fugitive. We have connected International Police (INTERPOL) in Europe, together, we are all investigating him. Surely, we will catch him and he will face the full wrath of the law.”
On top of the unpaid mortgage that came due last fall, Aluko has been racking up maintenance fees and taxes on the property. He has not been seen for some time, prompting speculation that he is hiding out on the Galactica Star.
The boat — which Aluko rented to Jay-Z and Beyoncé in 2015 for $900,000 a week — was last registered in Freeport, Bahamas, on May 3, but is currently “out of range,” yacht trackers said.
Aluko was last seen in Hong Kong in May on his 213-foot yacht, Galactica Star, which he rented to Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles Carter for $900,000 a week in 2015, and is currently in the Bahamas. He was reportedly spotted at Ja Rule’s Fyre Festival in late April on the yacht.
Earlier, Aluko did appear with the yacht at the ill-fated Ja Rule Fyre Festival music event in the Bahamas in late April. Prior to that, the Galactica Star left Cabo last year and was briefly berthed in Turkey, records show.
Shamefully, this 48-year-old Nigerian oil tycoon, friend to Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell and Leonardo DiCaprio is so deep in debt that he could not raise funds legitimately to pay his accrued bills on the $50.9 million luxury condo, compelling a European bank forcing a sale by next month of his New York house.
Foreclosure proceedings were started in January on Aluko’s apartment on the 79th story of One57, which would be the costliest ever residential seizure in New York City. The 6,240-square-foot (580-square-meter) condo was bought in 2014 by a shell company listed in New York City public records as One57 79 Inc., whose sole shareholder is Earnshaw Associates Ltd. Earnshaw was set up by Aluko in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Panama Papers, a trove of documents leaked in 2016 to expose offshore tax evasion, which cite him as a shareholder and beneficiary.
In September 2015, Earnshaw took out a $35.3 million mortgage from lender Banque Havilland SA, based in Luxembourg, according to New York City public records. The full payment of the loan was due one year later, foreclosure filings in New York State Supreme Court show. The borrower failed to repay, and now Banque Havilland is forcing a sale to recoup the funds, plus interest.
Michael Lubben, a New York attorney who, according to court records, represents the mortgage borrower, didn’t return a call seeking comment. Andrew Messite, a lawyer representing Banque Havilland, also didn’t return a call. An email to Tokunbo Jaiye-Agoro, who has represented Aluko in the Nigerian court case, and calls and emails to his law firm, Jaiye Agoro & Co., weren’t returned. The New York Post on Monday night identified Aluko as the condo’s owner.
As earlier stated, Nigeria’s Federal High Court last year issued a worldwide freeze on assets tied to Aluko, including luxury homes in New York, Los Angeles and London, three private jets, 58 cars and a yacht named the Galactica Star, the court filings show. Aluko received oil-extraction contracts from the Nigerian government, and failed to share a portion of the oil-sale proceeds, as he was required to do, according to the filings.
For Banque Havilland, the money it lent Aluko for his One57 apartment accounted for the equivalent of more than 6 percent of its loan portfolio at the end of 2015. In its annual report that year, the bank said its loans totaled 388.9 million euros. The mortgage on the One57 unit was for as much as 25 million euros, according to New York City public records.
Investigation shows that Aluko who claims Switzerland as his residence, was among those who allegedly obtained lucrative contracts from Nigeria’s former oil minister, Alison Madueke, who has also been accused in a $1.76 billion scheme to defraud the government of oil sale profits that both have denied.
The alleged plot may have parked the money in assets around the world, including jets, automobiles and pricey real estate in London, Sweden, Dubai, New York and California.
Loving life to its peak, Aluko has been busy flipping many of the expensive properties he’s bought. In Montecito, Calif., Gwyneth Paltrow paid Aluko an undermarket $4.9 million for a 2.4-acre estate that was equipped with a massive pool. In 2012, Aluko paid $14.7 million for an 11,478-square-foot manse in Beverly Hills that was rented to Ariana Grande. The singer had to leave when Aluko sold it for just $13 million in 2016.
Only recently, a shell company controlled by Aluko has been trying to unload an apartment at 1049 Fifth Ave., which it bought for $8.5 million in 2013. The apartment, whose two combined units boast four bedrooms and four bathrooms, a maid’s apartment and two storage units, has liens on it of more than $20,000, and it owes $61,000 in taxes to the city as of July 1.
Luxury skyscraper One57, built by real estate mogul Gary Barnett’s Extell Development, holds the sales record for a full-floor apartment, with one unit that sold for $100.5 million. But with lots of competition from new Billionaires’ Row towers, including 432 Park Ave., it has become harder to sell and rent mega-priced condos.
Nigerian and European authorities are investigating him for a series of money-laundering and fraud-related crimes. The oil baron has even been alleged as the money launderer for Madueke. Shortly after she became oil minister in 2010, she was accused of embezzlement.
Aluko hasn’t been seen on dry land since the arrest of Madueke on Oct. 2, 2016. He’s making headlines today because he’s the owner of the recently foreclosed $50.9M Billionaires’ Row penthouse at One57 which overlooks Central Park and the Hudson River, setting New York City’s foreclosure record. One57, formerly known as Carnegie 57 and nicknamed “The Billionaire Building”, is a 75-story supertall skyscraper at 157 West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in the Midtown neighborhood of New York City, which started construction in January 2010.
Aluko founded Fossil Resources, an oil trading company; was CEO of Exoro Energy prior to its merger with Seven Energy, a leading independent oil exploration company and is now deputy CEO and a large shareholder of Seven Energy and co-CEO of Atlantic Energy. He is also a member of the advisory board of VistaJet, a private jet charter company. It remains to be seen how long he can hide, until the hands of the law catches up with him.