A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth, as 11 million documents were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
They show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.
The company says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrongdoing.
Some Nigerian politicians were named in the leak, as not less than four assets belonging to the Saraki family — all tucked away in offshore territories — were uncovered in the leak.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki was reported to have left them (the assets) out while declaring his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) as required by Nigerian laws.
But the President of the Senate yesterday said he had fully complied with the law on asset declaration.
Under the code of conduct law, a public office holder is required to declare his own assets, those of his wife as well as assets in the names of his children below the age of 18.
In his declaration form, Saraki listed property owned by his wife, Toyin Saraki, to include a plot of land at Lekki valued at N5 million, which he said was a gift he received in January 1989.
Mrs. Saraki was also listed as owner of a property at 15 Bryanston Square, London W1 and 69 Bourne Street, London.
While the first, which rental income was put at £48,000 with a value of £900,000, was acquired in January 1989, the second, which value was put at £2m and had rental value of £150,000, was acquired for business in April 2000.
The Senate President stated in his assets declaration form that his wife held an account in Eco Bank Broad Street, Lagos, where she had N1.5 million at the time he became governor in 2003.
She also maintained an account in Coutts & Co Strand, London, where she owned £450,000 and $125,000 in addition to $3 million in Northern Trust International Banking Corporation Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner.
Mrs. Saraki was also listed as maintaining substantial shares in European and American Trading Company, Tyberry Corporation and Eficaz Limited just as she held 500,000 shares, valued at £500,000, at P.C.C (U.K) Ltd. He was however silent on the number of shares the former first lady had in Haussmann and Tiny Tee (Nig) Limited.
But In a reaction to the claim contained in the Panama-based offshore provider, Mossack Fonseca and shared by the International Consortium of Investigation Journalists (ICIJ) that he failed to declare assets belonging to his wife, Mrs Toyin Saraki, in secret offshore territories, Saraki said he has in his different asset declarations included properties owned individually by himself and his wife.
Read below statement signed by saraki’s special advisers on media, Yusuph Olaniyonu,and released to journalists in Abuja yesterday:
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki today said he has fully complied with the provisions of the law on declaration of assets by public officers.
In a reaction to the claim contained in the Panama-based offshore provider, Mossack Fonseca and shared by the International Consortium of Investigation Journalists (ICIJ) that he failed to declare assets belonging to his wife, Mrs Toyin Saraki, in secret offshore territories, Saraki said he has in his different asset declarations included properties owned individually by himself and his wife.
The property in question forms part of Dr. Saraki’s wife’s family asset. It is public knowledge that Mrs. Saraki comes from a family of independent means and wealth with numerous and varied assets acquired over decades in family estates and investments.
“Furthermore, the law only requires a public officer to declare both his own assets and those held by his spouse and his children under 18 years of age. The law does not require a public officer to declare assets held by the spouse’s family.
“It is not expected by the law that a public officer should declare such assets held in the spouse’s family estate. Indeed, the Code of Conduct form does not make provision for declaration of spouse’s family assets”, he stated.
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Senate President
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande hailed the “good revelations” which would “increase tax revenues from those who commit fraud”.
The documents show 12 current or former heads of state and at least 60 people linked to current or former world leaders in the data.
They include the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson, who had an undeclared interest linked to his wife’s wealth. He has said he will not resign.
The files also reveal a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The investigation, which started late last year discovered over 11 million records, which shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars.
These are among the findings of a year-long investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations.