Data from the Panama-based offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ, with over 100 media partners in 82 countries, has revealed that Nigeria’s businessman and industrialist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, his relative, Sayyu Dantata, as well as his business allies have over the years used Shell companies domiciled in controversial tax havens in their business deals.
Dangote, with $15.4 billion wealth, is on Forbes Rich List as the richest man in Africa.
The investigation involving 11.5 million secret documents – which stretch from 1977 to December 2015 expose the hidden underground of the world economy, a network of banks, law firms and other middlemen that utilize shell companies, sometimes using them to hide illegal wealth.
The 2.6 TB files, involving 214,488 entities, also reveal hundreds of details about how former gun-runners, contractors and other members of the spy world use offshore companies for personal and private gain.
Mossack Fonseca has, however, in a statement to ICIJ, denied any wrongdoings, saying as a registered agent, it merely helps incorporate companies, and that before agreeing to work with a client in any way, it conducts a thorough due-diligence process, “one that in every case meets and quite often exceeds all relevant local rules, regulations and standards to which we and others are bound.”
Mr Dangote is one of the most prominent clients of Mossack Fonseca, and in Panama alone, based on company registration addresses provided by shareholders, 13 shell companies registered by the firm are directly linked to persons and companies who in turn are linked to the billionaire and his allies.
The business mongul alongside his half brother, Sayyu Dantata, the founder of MRS Holdings (a leading West African oil-marketing firm, which acquired Chevron-Texaco’s downstream assets in 2007) bought equal shares of 12,500 each from OVLAS S.A, a shell company registered in Seycheles, on October 6, 2003.
According to the documents, three years after they existed as shareholders of the company, the trio Dangote, Dantata and M.R.S Oil and Gas Company Limited ceased to be shareholder in the company. That was on April 12, 2006.
But in an arrangement that seems curious, Mr. Dangote was issued a higher amount of shares 250,000 on the same day he resigned.
In the same manner, his brother, Mr. Dantata, was issued the same amount of 250,000 shares. That means the businessmen simply resold the shares back to themselves. Their company, MRS Oil and Gas, was re-issued 500,000 shares.
After three years of holding the shares, they all ceased to be shareholders. Again, they resumed possession of the shares again as in the previous time, but this time it seems Mr. Dangote sold his shares to Mr. Dantata and M.R.S Oil and Gas Company Limited.
Dangote ceased to be shareholder permanently on July 6, 2009, and Mr. Dantata’s amount of shares doubled to 500,000 shares while MRS Oil and Gas CO, LTD retained its 500,000 shares. Documents show Mr. Danatata never sold, transferred his shares or ceased to be a shareholder till date.
The spokesperson for the Dangote Group, Tony Chiejina, in response to enquiry by PREMIUM TIMES, said, “Thank you for your enquiry concerning our alleged relationship with the following off shore companies namely: Paseo Trading Ltd, Seychelles; Petrowest S.A.,Seychelles; SID Holdings Corp, Panama and Chalmers Shipping Inc, Panama.
“I wish to state categorically that neither Aliko Dangote nor Dangote Industries Ltd, DIL, has any form of relationship with these alleged four off shore companies. The Group has four quoted companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and we cannot afford to tarnish our reputation or conduct our business in an unethical manner given this profile.
“Our reputation is paramount to us and we are conscious of the downside of it. We thank you for upholding ethics in journalism.’’

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