THE NAME of Senate President, Bukola Saraki is among more than 120 politicians and leaders in nearly 50 countries who have reportedly been utilising shell companies in tax havens to either conceal assets, evade tax, or launder funds. This comes 18 months after a similar investigation exposed his ownership of at least three secret offshore firms which he allegedly used in concealing assets abroad. PREMIUM TIMES and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), said their findings showed that Saraki sits on the board of an offshore entity while he was governor and later member of the senate in violation of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct law. A tax haven is a jurisdiction that offers favourable tax or other conditions to its taxpayers as relative to other jurisdictions. There is no generally accepted definition of what renders a country or jurisdiction a tax haven, but activities that are commonly associated with such places range far beyond tax. He reportedly set up Tenia Limited in the Cayman Islands —a tax haven in the Caribbean— in 2001 and ran it until at least 2015 as director and sole shareholder. The report said it is unclear what business he transacted with the entity and what asset he might have used it to conceal. But Saraki failed to list the firm in his assets declaration filings when he was elected governor of Kwara in 2003, in defiance of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. He also did not list the company when he was reelected governor in 2007 and when he was elected senator in 2011. The latest details emerged from a leaked data obtained by German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and ICIJ from two offshore secrecy providers (Appleby and Asiaciti Trust) and 19 secrecy jurisdictions. The leaked 1.4 terabyte data,
now infamously dubbed Paradise Papers, contains 13.4 million records and is no doubt one of the biggest leaks in history. There have also been debates about the ethics of using tax havens, where an estimated $32 trillion is believed held in offshore accounts, depriving their originating countries of tax revenues. Andrew Stephenson of Discreet Law, a London-based law firm that represents Saraki, confirmed that the senate president owned Tenia Ltd., but absolved him of any wrongdoing. “There’s nothing unlawful in the ownership of offshore companies,” Stephenson said in response to an ICIJ enquiry, adding that the company had never been active since it was set up,” he said. “We are instructed that Tenia Ltd. has never held any assets, nor has it ever traded or conducted any other business, nor does it have anything to do with the tribunal proceedings in Nigeria.”
Asked why Saraki failed to declare the firm to the Code of Conduct Bureau in a follow-up e-mail, Stephenson said his client needed more time to respond. The code of conduct law requires public office holders to declare own assets, as well as those owned by their spouses and children below the age of 18. Saraki was said to have registered Tenia Ltd. in 2001 with 30 Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos as base. The property on that address was investigated as part of Saraki’s assets declaration trial, but he said he only rented an office in the building. Saraki’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) was quashed on June 14, 2017. In his capacity as head of the senate, Nigeria’s number three citizen has inaugurated several panels saddled with the responsibility of probing corruption.

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  • vic

    saraki is the money launderer and chief thief of nigeria as proven time and again and yet deadwood buhari fails to prosecute him. so much so about buhari’s hypocritical over-hyped corruption drive.

  • Auta62

    Too much scandal around Saraki. This does not make for good leadership and role model.