09/07/2012 02:58 pm ET

Insurance Tycoon Allegedly Hatches Bizarre Plot To Destroy His Own Yacht

Normally captains are paid to pilot a boat safely -- but one captain may have been promised money to sink one.

Nicolas Estrella, a 60-year-old insurance tycoon from Miami, has been accused of insurance fraud after his multimillion dollar 85-foot yacht disappeared from the dock near his mansion last May. Estrella was on his cattle ranch in Texas when the yacht went missing and was later found sunken off the coast of the Bahamas, according to the Daily Mail.

But if the ex-girlfriend of the boat's former captain, Robert Figueredo, is to be believed, Figueredo and one or two other accomplices were promised at least $100,000 (a boatload you might say) to make Estrella's yacht disappear, according to the Miami Herald. The school teacher says Figueredo told her the craft would be sunk "for the insurance money," but he never disclosed just who would be paying it out.

Estrella had been struggling to sell the yacht, called Star One, for a price of $2.7 million at the time of its disappearance. More than enough incentive, says Federal Insurance Co., Estrella's insurer, to destroy the boat and file for $3 million in damages.

Now one of the alleged accomplices, Eric Mackenzie, has approached authorities owning up to his involvement in the scheme. What's more, Mackenzie says Estrella promised his former captain $200,000 for the deed, reports the Miami Herald.

Estrella's lawyers deny their client's involvement in any of this, maintaining he's been doubly victimized: first when his $2.7 million yacht was stolen, according to Yachting & Boating World, then again when his insurer failed to immediately cover his loss.

As for the captain, if Figueredo is convicted for the theft of Star One, he could face up to 30 years in prison, according to CBS Miami. The station reports he was arrested and charged with first-degree grand theft in May.



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