Sunday, 10 April 2016

#PanamaPapers: EFCC, Interpol To Go after Saraki, Mark, Others

The Federal Government has opened a file on all Nigerians whose names have been mentioned in the Panama Papers as operating offshore accounts in notorious tax havens. Some of the individuals listed in the papers so far are the current Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and his predecessor, David Mark.
Others listed include Africa’s richest man, Mr. Aliko Dangote; his cousin, Saayu Dantata, and a former Minister of Defence, Lt.Gen Theophilus Danjuma (retd.) It was learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had been gathering reports from local and international media as well as the responses being given by those named.

It was also learnt that the EFCC would then carry out its independent investigation and involve INTERPOL if necessary.
German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, had last Sunday released the Panama Papers, the biggest leak in the history of data journalism, publishing online 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which showed how some prominent people across the world criminally hid money using anonymous shell corporations across the world.
The Panamanian law firm, regarded as one of the world’s most secretive companies, according to the documents, has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.
Already, the Nigerians involved have all denied complicity.
In an exclusive report by online medium, Premium Times, it was alleged that about four assets belonging to the Saraki family, which included Girol Properties Ltd., Sandon Development Limited, and Landfield International Developments Ltd., were tucked away in secret offshore territories.
For instance, the report stated that Girol Properties was registered on behalf of Toyin by Fonsecca on August 25, 2004, in the British Virgin Island, a year after her husband became the Governor of Kwara State. But the assets were allegedly not part of the ones declared by the Senate President or Toyin when Saraki became governor and after he was sworn in as the nation’s number three citizen.

Similarly, at least eight offshore companies in the British Virgin Island have been linked to Senator Mark which he allegedly operated while holding public office, a criminal offence according to Nigerian laws.
An impeccable source told our correspondent that the Federal Government was studying the body language of the international community and looking at how other countries were handling investigations.
The source, who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said, “We are studying the matter closely. In fact, we have opened a file and all reports are being gathered.
“We want all the names to be released first before launching full investigations. The issue is a tricky one. After preliminary investigations, we will seek advice from the Office of the Attorney General because investigations of such nature will need foreign collaboration.”
PUNCH.

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