Ten Nigerian politicians were implicated in the Pandora Papers for tax evasion. They are among hundreds of individuals from other countries indicted by the papers for hiding their wealth and assets in offshore locations to evade taxes.
One of those named in the report is a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, according to Premium Times which participated in the investigations.
The Pandora Papers is an investigation based on one of the biggest-ever leaks of financial documents which exposed a hidden world of shielded wealth belonging to hundreds of politicians and billionaires.
Published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Sunday, the papers listed 336 politicians, including nationals of eight African countries.
The project saw 600 journalists from 150 news organizations around the world poring through a trove of 11.9 million confidential files, contextualizing information, tracking down sources, and analyzing public records and other documents.
According to the report, Obi, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, sets up and operated businesses abroad in tax and secrecy havens; and breached Nigerian laws while he was a serving governor by failing to declare these assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
He sets up his first offshore company, Gabriella Investments Limited (named after his daughter who bears a similar name), 4 years into his time as governor of Anambra state.
The creation of the company, which was domiciled in the British Virgin Island (named as “one of the world’s most notorious tax havens noted for providing conduits for wealthy and privileged corrupt political elites to hide stolen cash to avoid the attention of tax authorities”) was facilitated by Access International, a Monaco based organization known for facilitating such covert operations.
Access is said to have been paid to provide figurehead directors to sit on the board of Gabriella Investments Limited to conceal its true ownership structure. Another company operating on the British Virgin Island, Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (Alcohol), a Panamanian law firm, was contracted as the local agent to set up the company for Mr. Obi.
Peter Obi Reacts
Reacting to the development, the Anambra politician said he did not declare companies and the funds and property he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau because he was unaware that the law required him to do so.
“I don’t declare what is owned with others,”, he told Premium Times.
“If my family owns something I won’t declare it. I didn’t declare anything I jointly owed with anyone.”
He said the offshore entity is the holding company for most of his assets and that the business structure he adapted was to enable him to avoid excessive taxation.
“I am sure you too will not like to pay inheritance tax if you can avoid it,” he said.