Luxury yachts built in Dutch shipyards are being sold to suspect buyers around the world through tax havens, Trouw and the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday.
The dubious yacht transactions were revealed through an investigation being carried out into the Paradise Papers by the two Dutch newspapers .
The documents reveal at least two instances in which the actual buyer of a Dutch-built yacht has been protected. In one case, the purchase money was obtained, the US justice department maintains, by corruption.
The Dutch land registry, which covers fishing and inland water pleasure boats as well as housing, said that registration of luxury yachts should be made compulsory to reduce the risk that yachts can be used to cover up money laundering.
The Paradise Papers contain information culled from legal advisor Appleby and the Estera trust office in Bermuda which came into the hands of German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to the media worldwide.
Appleby has been involved in the registration or management of hundreds of ships of which one hundred could be classified as super yachts: vessels of up to 150 metres in length and worth hundreds of millions of euros.
One of these is the Galactica Star (65 metres and valued at €82m) which was sold in the summer of 2013 by Dutch shipbuilder Heesen. The buyer was Speedwave 65, a company recently set in the British Virgin Islands by an individual who chose to be anonymous.
Speedwave sold the yacht on almost immediately to another Virgin Island entity Earnshaw Associates Inc, owned by the Nigerian oil magnate Kola Aluko who allegedly obtained his money illegally. Heesen said it was unaware of the resale of the Galactica to Aluko at the time.
Shipyards also fall under legislation aimed at preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism, like banks and trust offices They must establish the identity of the actual owner and the aim of any given transaction.