The Netherlands’ Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency (Kadaster) told a Dutch newspaper that it plans to start a registry for yachts and superyachts built in that country. The government agency currently registers ownership and administrative data for properties, inland barges, commercial vessels, aircraft and telecom networks.
Following last week’s publication of the Paradise Papers, Het Financieele Dagblad said Kadaster is concerned about Dutch yacht builders selling yachts to individuals hiding behind companies in tax havens. Officials told the paper that a registry with owners’ names would reduce the risk of the yachts being used for activities like money laundering or selling to individuals on sanctions lists.
The Paradise Papers included data on 100 yachts registered in offshore locations by the Appleby law firm in Bermuda.
Heesen’s Galactica Star was named in the Het Financieele Dagblad story. The 65m superyacht was purchased from Heesen by Speedwave 65, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. According to the story, Speedwave sold it immediately to Earnshaw Associates Inc. Earnshaw is owned by Kola Aluko, owner of a Nigerian oil company. According to a US Department of Justice lawsuit filed in July, Kola Aluko’s revenues came from bribing Nigeria’s former oil minister. Heesen told the paper that it was not aware of the resale to Aluko after it delivered Galactica Star.
Het Financieele Dagblad also cited the 99m Feadship Madame Gu as another yacht with no clear ownership structure. According to the newspaper, the build contract was signed in 2008 with Belize-based Castel Shipping, but during the construction, the yacht was resold to Cayman-based Almano Holding. The owner’s name was not traceable through any yacht registries. The Paradise Papers showed that Elena Likhach, wife of Russian billionaire and parliamentarian Andrei Skoch, owned the yacht.
Shipyards in the Netherlands, according to the story, are required by laws to help prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. The yards are obligated to determine the owner’s identity and purpose of the transaction.
Registrations of transactions on superyachts are not mandatory, but a Kadaster spokesperson told the paper that the agency wants a registry created. "In recent years, Kadaster has tightened control over the subscription of these vessels,” said the spokesperson. “In the case of most housing transactions, we look at the experience of the notary. With yachts, we allow them to do the checks mostly by themselves.”
The spokesperson said that if a yacht owner is a company, information from the rade registry from the country of establishment is required. "Unfortunately, an ubo check (confirmation of the owner’s name) is not necessarily possible. That should be different when the ubo registry is established,” said the spokesman.