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Thursday, 7 April 2016

EFCC may probe Nigerians named in Panama Papers

EFCC may probe Nigerians named in Panama Papers
There were strong indications yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may probe Nigerians associated with secret offshore companies.
Apart from Senate President Bukola Saraki, others mentioned in the secret leak that has been generating worldwide ripples are: Former Senate President David Mark, Saraki’s wife, Toyin, former Delta State Governor James Ibori, Mr. Laolu Saraki, Mr. Obi Asika and Mr. Olufela Ibidapo.
Yesterday, former Defence Minister Gen. Yakubu Danjuma’s name was linked with some firms.
According to a top EFCC source, the EFCC has already obtained a copy of the Panama Papers, which its operatives are studying.
The source said: “We are studying all the documents and definitely we will investigate the allegations against all the Nigerians implicated in the Panama Papers.
“These allegations may lead to further clues on whether or not public funds were used in acquiring some of these secret assets.
The Panamanian law firm, reputed as one of the most secretive companies in the world, had helped clients to register offshore entities, some of which are then used to launder money, evade tax and dodge sanctions.
Gen. Danjuma, the wealthy philanthropist and one-time Defence minister, according to the Mossac Fonseca files, floated Eastcoast Investments, which he incorporated in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 25, 1997.
At inception, Gen.  Danjuma and a certain Colin Marcel Dixon were directors of the company.
According to Premium Times, Gen. Danjuma formed the company to enable him do business with Scancem International of Norway when the latter decided to expand its business frontiers to Nigeria.
But the company became embroiled in a bribery scandal, with Scancem, according to court papers, later buying out Eastcoast Investment from the project on December 1, 2003.
Gen. Danjuma reportedly resigned as director of the company.
He is also reported to have used other offshore entities.
The database, Opencorporates, indicate that the ex-minister. served as director and vice-president of Cross Group Holdings International, which was registered in Panama on October 15, 1976.
Gen. Danjuma was also director of Zara Logistics, a company registered in Cyprus on September 2, 1993.
He could not be reached for comment yesterday. Sources close to him said he is out of the country.
Also, Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss attorney hired by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to track missing Abacha loot in Swiss banks is himself operating over 178 companies in offshore tax havens.
Mr. Monfrini was hired in 2000 by the government to help establish the existence of and repatriate over $4 billion allegedly looted by the former military dictator.
The documents showed that Mr. Monfrini, an influential legal practitioner in Switzerland, is director of 178 companies scattered around Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
Although the documents did not directly implicate Mr. Monfrini as having committed any crime, still, the revelation points to the hypocrisy of a man widely revered for his remarkable ability to dismantle tax evaders and looters across jurisdictions.

TheNation

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