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Yacht Owner Accused of Fraud: 'Captain paid to steal and sink yacht to collect $3m insurance money'

9august2012fraud9 September, 2012, Miami: Nicolas Estrella, the 60 year old founder of Estrella Insurance, has been accused of fraud after a witness stated Estrella had offered to pay his captain to steal and sink his yacht. The 80-foot yacht was reported stolen in 2009 from his Mediterranean mansion while he was in Texas on his cattle ranch. The yacht was found abandoned and partially submerged in Bahamian's waters. A later examination of the circumstanced surrounding the boat's disappearance demonstrated it is very likely someone tried to intentionally sink the vessel. According to the Daily Mail the boat's 'hatches and ports were wired open to let in water and its flotation tubes slashed or deflated. Its hoses also were cut, and an access plate was opened to the ocean.'

 The boat's captain, Robert Figuerdo, was arrested for allegedly stealing the Star One after one of his acquaintances told the Insurance fraud detectives Figuerdo had told him about the plot. The key witness in the case, Eric Mackenzie, claims Figuerdo asked him for help in exchange for a percentage of the money he was supposed to receive from Estrella. Mackenzie told the authorities that Figuerdo offered him 10 percent of the money Estrella was to pay him after the insurance granted him $2m for the yacht.

 Estrella denied all the accusations and his lawyer claims the insurance company is simply looking for excuses not to pay for the stolen boat. Eric Mackenzie's credibility as a witness is under scrutiny as court records show he was convicted for smuggling illegal Haitian immigrants to Florida, and he also has a records of lying under oath. The fraud case continues to be investigated, however, the insurance company has already pressed charges against Nicolas Estrella for insurance fraud.