The world was shaken to its very root and essence when a local law firm, Mossack Fonseca in Panama was reported to be hacked to leak information about offshore ownership of entities in the country. The country is widely acclaimed as tax haven by different personalities of the world for the purpose such as to launder money, evade tax and dodge sanctions.
World leaders, top politicians, fraudsters and drug barons, celebrities, billionaires and sports stars were among those named and shamed in what looks to be the biggest ever leak of inside information in history. Covering 40 years of emails, financial records and passport details, an investigation by more than 100 media groups shows how some of the world’s most powerful people have secretly stashed away their money in offshore jurisdictions. The people caught in this scandal are not necessarily all treasury thieves and looters; some are businessmen merely fulfilling the capitalist cliché of cheating the system by avoiding taxes.
As usual, Nigeria’s “no dey carry last” mentality ensured that some Nigerians were also not left out as a number of them were named in the scandal. The cache of 11.5 million records of financial secrecy of the billionaires included some prominent Nigerians. Many Nigerians featured on the list but five famous Nigerians caught our spotlight.
Senate President Bukola Saraki: Revelations made possible by internal data of the Panama-based offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 100 other media partners in 82 countries, could worsen Mr. Saraki’s case as he battles to extricate himself from allegations of corruption. The Senate President woes are compounded as he is currently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Bureau over false declaration of assets. Though, he has remained tip-lipped and evasive over ownership of offshore entities in Panama, as reports claimed in the media to be owned by his wife’s family. Entities such as Girol Properties Limited in British Virgin Island (BVI), Sandon Development Limited and Lanfield International Development Limited also in British Virgin Island (BVI) are reported corporately hidden in Mrs. Toyin Saraki’s name.
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Aliko Dangote: Aliko Dangote ranked as Africa’s richest man by Forbes in 2015 and currently worth an estimated $17.3 billion. Dangote is the chief executive of the Dangote Group and he has been closely linked to at least four offshore shell companies and as many as 13 through his family and business associates. He is reported to own offshore entities as Ovlas S.A, Paseo Trading Limited and Petrowest S.A registered in Seychelles and SID Holdings Corp and Chalmers Shipping Inc. in Panama.
Former Defence Minister General T.Y Danjuma: The retired general and former Defence Minister was named in Panama papers as a user of offshore company, Eastcoast Investment Inc., The Mossack Fonseca alleged the offshore entity was incorporated in Nassau, in the Bahamas. Premium Times reported that aside Danjuma running such shell interests, he was fingered among global personalities found to maintain secret accounts, operated with codes, with the Swiss branch of banking giant, HSBC. The report revealed that “He was linked to HSBC account 15731CD, which was opened in 1993 and closed in 2001”.
James Ibori: The former Delta state governor and presently serving 13 years jail term in London, United Kingdom was also indicted in the Panama papers scandal. He was convicted of such activities in 2012; four offshore companies connected to Ibori are named in the Panama Papers, one of which was used to buy a $20 million (£14 million) private jet. It was reported that the ex-governor admitted used his position to corruptly obtain and divert up to $75 million out of Nigeria through a network of offshore companies, while authorities supposed that the total amount he embezzled may have exceeded $250 million.
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Ex Senate President David Mark: The former senate president and recently won his re-run to the senate has no fewer than eight companies were reportedly linked to David Mark and they 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.
Others indicted by the Panama papers leak include Toyin Saraki, Laolu Saraki, Obi Asika, Olufela Ibidapo, Sayyu Dantata and many more names and detailed to be revealed very soon.
Written by Dosunmu Moshood