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Presidency To Probe Nigerians Named In Panama Papers

The senate president, Bukola Saraki, and hispredecessor, David Mark, and other prominent Nigerians may soon be in troubleas the Presidency has ordered the investigation of present and past Nigerian officials named in the Panama Papers scandal.The chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Sam Saba, confirmed the directive to PREMIUM TIMES.This newspaper had published leaked papers from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonsecca, which were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.The 2.6 TB files, involving 214,488 entities, exposed incredible secrets of the underworld economy, where a network of banks, law firms and other middlemen utilize shell companies, sometimes to hide illegal wealth.PREMIUM TIMES identified at least 110 Nigerians and companies operating offshore shell companies in tax havens.Mr. Saba said the Presidency forwarded names of some persons mentioned in the Panama Papers, to the agency for investigation.“I want to let you know that government has written to us and given us some names based on what they have been reading and hearing regarding that document,” Mr. Saba said. He said as soon as the #PanamaPapers reporting started, the CCB attempted to get the full leaks until PREMIUM TIMES assisted it by making some details for its scrutiny. Mr. Saba said the CCB, after studying the papers, has questions for some public officers in the country. He would not, however, disclose the names of the affected public officers.“I think it (Panama Papers) is going to be helpful because already we have some questions for certain public officers, which I will not be able to disclose at the moment. Until they finish answering those questions,I may not be able to discuss it,” he said.The CCB boss said the agency took some time to respond because it could not securethe leaked documents.“I tried to access the document via the internet, but I was required to subscribe and pay some money, which I didn’t have,” Mr. Saba said.“That was what stalled our effort at the time. But I later asked my counterpart in theICPC if he was in the picture and he replied in the negative. He, however, advised me to approach PREMIUM TIMES.”Public officers who may be investigated by the CCB.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki Four assets listed in the secret offshore accounts carry Mr. Saraki’s name, but the embattled senate president failed to disclose them in violation of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct law.One of the companies in Mrs. Saraki’s name in Seychelles Island is Sandon Development Limited, a vehicle used in acquiring a property on 8 Whittaker Street, Belgravia, London, in 2012.Another shareholder listed for that company is Babatunde Morakinyo, a long-term personal aide and friend of Mr. Saraki. PREMIUM TIMES confirmed that theassets actually belong to Mr. Saraki, and not his wife, Toyin.Evidence showed that Mrs. Saraki and Mr. Morakinyo were mere fronts and nominee directors holding assets in trust for the Senate president.According to one of the documents obtained by this newspaper, Mr. Sakari, while still Kwara State governor, and describing himself as landlord of 8 Whittaker Street, London and 70 Bourne Street, London, executed a deed granting his tenants license to alter the premises of the properties.A part of the deed reads, “This license is supplemental. The reversion immediately expectant on the determination of the lease is now vested in the landlord.“The unexpired residue of the No. 70 (Bourne Street) lease is still vested in Dr. Saraki and the unexpired residue of the number 8 (Whittaker Street) lease is now vested in the companies.”The deed was “signed, sealed and delivered” by Mr. Saraki on behalf of himself, Sandon Development Limited and Renocon Property Development Limited.It was, however, from Renocon that Mrs. Saraki, posing as owner of Sandon, purportedly bought Number 8 Whittaker Street in July 2011.Both companies belong to Mr. Saraki, but he only used a company owned by him to buy a property from another of his companies.Toyin acted as a front for her husband in the purported transaction.The Sarakis also own Girol Properties Ltd, which was registered on August 25, 2004 (ayear after Mrs. Saraki’s husband became governor) in the British Virgin Island (BVI).Company documents show that Mrs. Sarakiowns 25,000 numbers of shares with a par value of US$ 1,00 each. She was appointed the first and only director of the company.Mrs. Saraki had in a letter to the International Center for Investigative Journalism, ICIJ, denied having a shareholding in Girol Properties.But thisnewspaperfound a document linking her to the firm, as well as another handwritten document suggesting that she was known within Mossack Fonseca as justa nominee director and not the beneficial owner of the company.

Former senate president, David MarkFormer Senate president, David Mark, has links with eight offshore companies in British Virgin Island as shown by the leakeddatabase of Mossack Fonseca.The database showed Mr. Mark is one of Nigeria’s most extensive users of offshore shell companies, while serving as a public official.The companies are Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited,and Centenary Holdings Limited.In the documents, Mr. Mark was repeatedly marked as a politically exposed person, andat a point the former senate president had to send documents, across to Mossack Fonseca to prove that he was clean.The 68-year-old former military officer spent the last 40 years covered by the investigation largely as public office holder.He is widely seen to be far richer than his legitimate incomes could have provided.He served as military governor of Nigeria’s north-central state of Niger, minister of communications, and later as president of the Nigerian Senate from 2007 to 2015.Mr. Markhas been in the senate since 1999, and remains a senator of the federal republic, representing Benue South Zone in the upper legislative chamber.

Former National Planning Minister, Rasheed GbadamosiA former Minister for National Planning, Rasheed Gbadamosi, owns two expensive and luxurious penthouses in Panama, a notorious tax haven.Mr. Gbadamosi, writer, businessman and bureaucrat, who was recently appointed co-chairman of the Lagos at 50 planning committee, bought the two properties in 2008, while serving as chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.He paid a staggering N836.8 million ($2.6 million) for the penthouses located in a swanky tower in Panama.According to the leaks, sometime in early 2008, the former minister approached Gilberto Aleman, a Panamanian real estate broker, to help him secure two posh penthouses owned by Nicolas Corcione, owner of Ciclones Corporation Inc, and Cosmopolitan Corp, the companies under which the properties were registered.Valued at N436,800,000 ($1,365,000.00), Penthouse 1, the first penthouseMr. Gbadamosibought, is located in Ocean Park Tower 2, and consists of a surface area of 537.33 square meters, on floors 35 and 36 of the Tower.

Former Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Funsho KupolokunMr. Kupolokun, 69, is one of the largest shareholders in one of Ghana’s biggest hotels, the Kempinski Accra Hotel, a 269-luxury rooms five-star facility.But a close look at the company’s records will not reveal this fact because in 2013, Mr.Kupolokun, who was head of the NNPC between 2003 and 2007, used a shadowy offshore company registered in Mauritius, aknown tax haven, to hide his shares in the company that owns the hotel.The company, Gold Coast Resorts International Limited, is an entity incorporated in the British Virgins Island in 2006.Details obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the leaked Mossac Fonseca’s database showed that Mr. Kupolokun became director of Gold Coast Resorts on August 11, 2008 and personally held 17.23 per centshares in the company.
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