Nation

Pandora Leak: I’m Yet to Receive EFCC Invitation, Says Obi

A former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has denied reacting to the invitation extended to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as being circulated on different social media platforms.

Obi said he was yet to receive any invitation from the anti-graft commission, rather, he only read letters circulating on the internet, just like everyone else.

Obi, in a press release by his media office, signed by his media aide, Valentine Obienyem, said a reaction which quoted Obi as requesting the EFCC to make their investigations public, among other remarks did not emanate from the former vice-presidential candidate.

The release said: “Obi is yet to receive the letter from the EFCC, which he read on social media like others.

“From what is circulating, the letter appears to have been sent to an office he is no longer part of and is yet to reach him.”

However, the release further read: “Obi being a law abiding Nigerian will honour all legitimate invitations from government agencies at all times.”

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Pandora Papers

Pandora Papers: I don’t own more than $15m in offshore account –Peter Obi

Former Governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi has revealed that he doesn’t own more than $15 million in his offshore account and not $500 million as was widely reported.

Speaking on Arise TV on Monday, he addressed the release of the Pandora Papers, a project carried out by a global International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which showed that he owned companies in tax havens and reportedly didn’t declare all his assets before he was sworn in as Governor in Anambra State.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) pored through leaked files retrieved from some offshore services firms around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore entities for clients. About 600 journalists from 150 media organisations around the world went through over 11.9 million confidential files and it was discovered that Obi had investments in tax havens.

However, Obi insisted that  he didn’t do anything illegal because the companies are trust companies which are legitimate vehicles used everywhere globally for investment, savings and estate planning purposes.

“Trust company is a legitimate vehicle used everywhere globally for investment, savings and estate planning purposes. In my case and that of my family, it was done on very valuable advice of our then bankers, Loyds TSB. This is what they did for all their international clients who operated at the time I lived in the UK. They will help you to see that the formulated trust company offshore and that is what we did. This company was never used to launder money before, during and after till date. It wasn’t used for anything during my time in office. It was strictly a trust company for savings and family planning that was used to support our borrowings which we even invested in this country.

“Every investment that I have done globally is legitimate and pays tax. If you are a black man in London, you are a suspect. If you are a Nigerian, you are a double suspect. For me to live in the UK where my bank wrote and said my account has been impeccable and gave me about $7m overdraft, it shows I pay my tax. If I earn anything in the UK, I pay the UK government their tax. I can’t pay property tax in Nigeria for a property that is in the UK. I was subject to probe of tax two years ago in Anambra State and I showed evidence that in the past 20 years, I have consistently paid my tax and I have never paid less than N50 million annually.

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Pandora Papers

PANDORA PAPERS: FIRS vows to go after culpable individuals

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has vowed actions to determine and punish possible tax offences following the landmark Pandora Papers investigation in which a number of rich and powerful Nigerians have been named.

The Pandora Papers project involves 617 journalists and 151 media outlets collaborating to investigate a vast amount of previously hidden offshore records of the powerful and super rich in the world.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the trove of 11.9 million confidential files and led the partners, including Nigeria’s PREMIUM TIMES, that spent two years sifting through them, tracking down sources and digging into court files and other public records from dozens of countries.

The leaked records come from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients often seeking to keep their financial activities in the shadows.

In the Nigerian series, published by PREMIUM TIMES, a number of Nigerian serving and past public officers have been reported as having links to offshore companies, many undeclared in accordance with the law and some others used to anonymously acquire UK properties.

Offshore firms are not necessarily illegal and they are at times used for legitimate purposes. But they feature prominently in illicit financial flows. Corrupt politicians use them to steal and launder proceeds of corruption across international jurisdictions.

Nigerians reported so far include ex-governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu; former minister and serving senator, Stella Oduah; NPA acting chief Mohammed Bello-Koko; and Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State as well as their associates.

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CSOs berate FG, VIPs as Pandora papers implicate Peter Obi, nine others

Civil rights groups on Monday berated politicians and the elites as 10 Nigerian politicians were implicated in the Pandora Papers for tax evasion.

They were among hundreds of individuals from other countries indicted by the papers for hiding their wealth and assets in offshore locations to evade taxes.

Civil rights organisations including Transition Monitoring Group and the Centre for Public Accountability, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said report showed deep rooted corruption in Nigeria.

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 organisations around the world poring through a trove of 11.9 million confidential files, contextualising information, tracking down sources and analysing public records and other documents.

One of those named is a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, according to Premium Times which participated in the investigations.

Obi, a former Vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 election was said to have used a Monaco-based foreign company, Acces International to incorporate an offshore entity in 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.

According to Premium Times, he allegedly paid Acces International to provide nominee directors for his company, Gabriella Investments Limited.

Gabriella Investment Limited was born on November 17, 2010, with registration number 1615538 while two figureheads – Antony Janse Van Vuuren and Lance Lawson — were appointed its first directors while ultimate control resided with Obi.

Efforts were made to get a response from the former Anambra State Governor  Peter Obi without success.

Calls to his mobile telephone number were neither picked nor returned.

A response to a text message sent to him with respect to his response to findings listed against him in the Pandora papers was still being expected as of 10:09pm

When contacted earlier by Premium Times, Obi stated,  “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.”

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren did not respond when asked if the commission would initiate investigations into the allegations against Obi and other Nigerians mentioned in the Pandora Papers.

He did not respond to calls and to a text message seeking his comment on the development.

Details later

PUNCH

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