Former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi as well as a number of influential Nigerians have been fingered for allegedly flouting extant laws and legislations relating to assets acquisition in foreign climes.
The Pandora Papers is a detailed investigation involving about 600 journalists from reputable media establishments around the world. They include The Washington Post, the BBC, The Guardian, UK and Premium Times.
Specifically, the investigation is based on 11.9 million leaked documents from 14 financial services companies around the world. A total of 336 politicians were named in the Pandora Papers published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ uncovered ties between almost 1,000 companies in offshore havens and 336 high-level politicians and public officials; including more than a dozen serving heads of state and government, country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors, and others.
Premium Times disclosed that the contents of the document, which named some prominent Nigerian politicians, will reveal how some of the most influential Nigerians; including a former Chief Justice of Nigeria; current and former state governors; past and present lawmakers; businesspeople, a popular pastor, and many others; set up shell companies, and sometimes warehouse huge financial assets, in notorious secrecy jurisdictions.
Equally important, Peter Obi was named in the first series of the Pandora Papers. The former Anambra helmsman and erstwhile Vice Presidential candidate was accused of keeping secret assets he did not declare to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
In 2010, more than four years after Obi became governor, Obi reportedly set up his first discreet company in the British Virgin Island. He named the company Gabriella Investments Limited, after his daughter. Further, Obi contracted Acces International, a secrecy enabler in Monaco, France, to help him incorporate an offshore entity in one of the world’s most notorious tax havens noted for providing conduits for the wealthy and privileged corrupt political elites to hide stolen cash.
Further, Premium Times revealed that Obi also paid Acces International to provide nominee directors for the company. The directors are residents of tax havens paid to sit on boards of companies to hide the identities of real owners of offshore firms. Additionally, Acces International officials reportedly took briefs from Obi and or his representatives. Thereafter, they headed to the British Virgin Island where they contracted a local registered agent; Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (Alcogal) — to set up Gabriella Investments Limited for the former governor.
However, Peter Obi has refuted the claims; noting that he could not have made such a declaration on assets he co-owned with others.
“I don’t declare what is owned with others. If my family owns something I won’t declare it. I didn’t declare anything I jointly owed with anyone,” he told Premium Times.
More Nigerians are expected to be named in the next series of the Pandora Papers investigation.