07/23/2010 08:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jeff Greene: Senate Candidate's Yacht Damaged Coral Reef, Left Up To $1.87M In Unpaid Fines

Billionaire candidate Jeff Greene, who's facing-off against Rep. Kendrick Meek in Florida's Democratic Senate primary, has found himself embroiled in controversy over damages caused by his 145-foot luxury yacht.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that Greene's 350-ton vessel, Summerwind, severely tore up a coral reef system off the coast of Belize during an ocean voyage five years ago:

There it dropped anchor -- and plunged into controversy over severe damage to a coral reef system officially recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's most magnificent and irreplaceable treasures.

"The guys from the area told me they were beside the boat before it dropped anchor, and they were yelling and waving their hands, shouting, 'No! No, don't drop here,' '' recounted Melanie McField, a marine scientist with the Smithsonian Institution who surveyed the Central American reef shortly after the incident. "It was bad. There was a lot of damage."

Greene denies the incident ever happened. If the Florida Democrat were to return to Belize, he would reportedly face fines of up to $1.87 million given the extent of the damage caused by his vessel.

According to a 2008 Forbes profile, Greene purchased the yacht for $6 million back in 2002. It reportedly costs $100,000 to fill with fuel and burns 50 gallons of gas per hour.

(The Orlando Sentinel reports that Greene's assets in stock, bonds, and real estate are worth between $827 million and $2.8 billion, according to financial disclosure documents.)