At least four assets belonging to the wealthy and famous Saraki family of Nigeria, all tucked away in secret offshore territories, have been uncovered.
But the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, failed to declare them to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, as required by law.
This revelation, made possible by internal data of the Panama-based offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), could worsen Saraki’s case as he battles to extricate himself from allegations of corruption.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, said he had fully complied with the provisions of the law on declaration of assets by public officers.
Last September, the CCB slammed false asset declaration charges on Saraki, accusing him, among other things, of failure to declare his assets in full.
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.
The hidden assets
However, a fresh investigation has uncovered a hidden London property in the name of Toyin Saraki but which was left out among the assets declared by the Senate President.
The hidden property is located at #8 Whuttaker Street, Belgravia, London SW1W 8JQ. It has title number NGL802235.
The first, Girol Properties Ltd, was registered on August 25, 2004, (a year after Mrs. Saraki’s husband became governor of Kwara State) in the British Virgin Island (BVI).
Company documents show that Mrs. Saraki owns 25,000 numbers of shares with a par value of US$ 1,00 each, and was appointed the first and only director of the company.
It, however, remains unclear what businesses Mrs Saraki transacted with the company. Mrs Saraki, however, in a letter to ICIJ, through her lawyers, denied ever owning any shareholding in Girol Properties.
I’ve fully complied with law on asset declaration —Saraki
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 had in his different asset declarations included properties owned individually by himself and his wife.
He said: “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.”
How Ibori allegedly used foundations to hide funds
Also, former Delta State governor, James Ibori, was found to have established limited liability companies and foundations in secret offshore tax havens to hide some of the funds allegedly taken from the state’s treasury, a leak of secret tax documents has revealed.
Ibori, who is currently serving jail term in the United Kingdom, after pleading guilty to fraud charges in 2012, enlisted his immediate family as beneficiaries of the offshore companies and foundations.
Details of how Mr. Ibori allegedly took the funds were contained in a leak of about 11.5M secret documents owned by the Panama-based international law firm, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitungand shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists ICIJ, and over 100 other media partners in 82 countries.
The Panama papers scandal has been described as the biggest leak in history.
To hide the funds, Mr. Ibori, working through a Swiss asset management firm, Clamorgan S.A. in Geneva, was said to have established several offshore companies, including Stanhope Investments Limited,a foundation, Julex Foundation, and a trust, The Hopes Trust, enlisting himself, his wife and daughters as beneficiaries.
Clamorgan prides itself as a company that provides asset management, fiduciary services, immovable property administration, among others, and operates under the laws of Geneva, Switzerland.
The leaked papers has now revealed how Mr. Ibori used offshore shell companies and foundations to launder Delta State’s money, including an attempt to take out a massive loan from Lloyds Bank in London.
The beneficiaries of Mr. Ibori’s Julex Foundation were Mr. Ibori himself; his wife, Theresa and some other believed to be his daughters: Obianuju, Ehriatake Ibori, Otonvwen, Eseoghene, Oberhili and Eguono.