#PanamaPapers: Secret assets of Etisalat chairman, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, uncovered in tax haven

Hakeem Belo-Osagie
Hakeem Belo-Osagie

A portion of the wealth owned by former Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Hakeem Belo-Osagie, is domiciled in trusts and shell companies in some notorious tax havens around the world, with some in Jersey in the Channel Islands, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.

The Channel Islands are a tax haven and an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French Coast of Normandy.

Mr. Belo-Osagie, now Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, was listed by Forbes Magazine as the 41st richest man in Africa with a net worth of $600 million as at November 2014.

One of the tax-haven Trusts in Jersey is known as the Belo-Osagie Trust 2 which actually is a front office for a shell company called Clerkenwell Management Limited.

The relationships of these two entities and other offshore subsidiaries are buried in a complex layers of secrecy.

This information came to the fore as PREMIUM TIMES continued to scrutinise the over 11 million Mossack Fonseca documents contained in the sleaze dossier now known worldwide as the Panama Papers.

Documents show that Clerkenwell Management Limited is “an entity 100% owned by the Belo-Osagie Trust 2 (the “Trust”)”.

However, Mr. Belo-Osagie is not listed as a trustee. The trustee of this Trust is a company named Chesham Limited which registered office is given as 13 Castle Street, St. Helier, Jersey JE4 5UT, Channel Islands.

Chesham Limited was incorporated in Jersey on September 7, 2007, with registered number 98642.

It has as its directors Charles Guy Malet de Carteret, Christopher John Blunt, Hugh Duncan Cathcart, Simon Paul Alan Brewer and Wendy Joy Burnett. These people appear to be nominee directors.

In tax havens arrangement, nominee directors are usually used as fronts for beneficial owners of entities.

Mr. Belo-Osagie “of 21 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi Lagos Island, Nigeria” is listed in the documents as the settlor of the Trust .

The Etisalat chairman and his Ghanaian wife, Myma, are named as beneficiaries of the Trust.

But in a convoluted and confusing legal arrangements, the same documents which described the couple as “settlor” and “beneficiaries”, state that Mr. Belo-Osagie and his wife “are not direct owners and are members of a discretionary class of beneficiaries. The ultimate controlling party is the Trustee (Chesham Limited).” That kind of arrangement and claim, PREMIUM TIMES has found, are in line with offshore shell companies practices where things are never straightforward.

But further checks by this newspaper revealed that Chesham Limited is in turn 100 per cent owned by Sanne Fiduciary Services Limited.

Mr. Belo-Osagie's assets in tax haven
Mr. Belo-Osagie’s assets in tax haven

Sanne Fiduciary Services and Chesham Limited share the same land address of 13 Castle Street, St. Helier, Jersey JE4 5UT, Channel Islands.

Sanne Fiduciary is the trustee of yet another Trust known as the Belo-Osagie Purpose Trust. This Trust was established by Mr. Belo-Osagie on November 6, 2007, exactly two months after Chesham Limited was incorporated. The initial property for the entity was provided by Mr. Belo-Osagie.

The offshore sister companies are Airport Square Trust in Jersey and Tamerlaine Limited in British Virgin Island.

These companies, working with Belo-Osagie Purpose Trust, have business activities such as “Investment in Ghana Airport City Development Limited.”

Myma Belo-Osagie is the beneficial owner of Tamerlaine.

If the legal documentations appear a jigsaw puzzle, one piece of paper graciously serves as the smoking gun. On the source of funds transferred to the Trust, the document unequivocally stated that “All funds settled into the Trust originated from Mr. Belo-Osagie.”

The document went further to clarify that:

“Mr. Belo-Osagie received funds from consultancy work in Nigeria and these were placed in a Liechtenstein structure. A proportion of these funds were invested in UBA, a Nigerian bank.”

The nature of consultancy undertaken by the businessman was not indicated.

The document however added, “The shares in the bank were subsequently sold at a substantial profit through Afrinvest, an FSA regulated broker based in the UK. These funds make up the bulk of wealth transferred to the Trust.”

Tax authorities the world over view Liechtenstein with a certain level of notoriety and suspicion.

The Liechtenstein structure or Liechtenstein-based arrangements are generally marketed to wealthy individuals to avoid or evade tax obligations in their home countries.

Structure of one of Mr. Belo-Osagie's trust
Structure of another  of Mr. Belo-Osagie’s trust

The promoter may provide a paper trail of documents that leads nowhere as the documents do not reflect substance of transactions and the owner’s interest or involvement in the structure.

It was gathered that a special-purpose fund is separate from the assets of its founder and forms the assets of the Trust or Foundation from then on; as such, the owner does not pay tax on them.

A Liechtenstein structure has no members, partners or shareholders. The owner directly or indirectly transfers assets to the structure. The assets may include cash and investments in term of deposits, bonds or equities, which may themselves consist of undisclosed income or gains from another country.

The structure then uses the assets to generate passive income, which is retained by the structure. The owner and/or his associates ultimately reap the economic benefits from the structure, often in a disguised form. The structure may be used as a holding company for other entities in which the owner has interests.

Mr. Belo-Osagie’s father, Professor Sunmonu Belo-Osagie, was the gynecologist to the family of former Nigerian military president, Ibrahim Babangida. His family’s connections with the military in the 1980s was a springboard for his appointments as a Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy and later as Special Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, positions he admitted in interviews opened for him his first road to fortune.

In 1998, he acquired a controlling stake in UBA and became the bank’s Chairman. But the businessman, who is one of the sponsors of a new $120 million shopping mall currently being developed in Jabi Lake Abuja, was in 2004 forced out of UBA by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following a complaint by US authorities.

In 2002, UBA, under Mr. Belo-Osagie, became the focus of a CBN probe over money laundering and foreign exchange abuses.

The sum of $2.5 million had fraudulently been withdrawn from the US Treasury by one Neil A. Smith. The money was laundered in tranches to various banks for further disbursement to designated banks in different parts of the world.

Of the sum, $350,000 was wired in September 1999 into the account of a Nigerian company, Zamora Nigeria Limited, at the New York office of the UBA.

Investigators by the US Secret Service tracked the money and consequently froze the Zamora account. The Service also uncovered some other fraudulent transfers received by Zamora for further credit to the accounts of some companies in Nigeria. Zamora was found to have been floated by insiders within the UBA.

Offshore companies linked to Hakeem Belo-Osagie in tax havens
Offshore companies linked to Hakeem Belo-Osagie in tax havens

In trying to unmask the owners of Zamora, the CBN discovered that although the name of Mr. Belo-Osagie’s father did not feature in any of the company’s documents at the Corporate Affairs Commission, it came up as a director of the company in money transfer returns of July 8, 1999 to the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

Five months later, two proxy directors of Zamora, Messrs Ovie Ukiri and Olasupo Sasore, held an extraordinary general meeting, tendered their resignation letters to themselves, accepted their own resignation and in the same breath appointed Mr. and Mrs. Ahonkhai as the new directors, subsequently transferring the company’s shares to the couple.

The new directors were found by the CBN to be resident in the United Kingdom and were neither aware of their appointments as directors nor of their new status as shareholders in Nigeria. The couple’s signatures on Zamora documents were found to have been forged.

Promoters of Mr. Belo-Osagie’s activities in Channel Islands admit in the secret documents that the bulk of the wealth transferred to the Trust came from UBA shares sold at substantial profit.

Although the UBA Chairman is not known to have ever participated in shares racketeering, shares purchase manipulation was rife in the banking industry leading to a bubble in 2008.

Not a few managing directors and directors of banks were found culpable by the Investment and Security Tribunal in the stock market bubble that led to the near collapse of Nigeria’s capital market.

Loans were obtained from foreign banks and with the funds the directors initiated a scheme that resulted in the local banks funding the purchase of their own shares. As artificial high prices of shares set in, unsuspecting investors chase after these shares which are quickly off-loaded leading to great losses to genuine investors.

Mr. Belo-Osagie was contacted on Saturday to comment for this story. He initially did not answer or return calls. But he replied a text message on Sunday, saying he would revert. He gave no time frame.

When the reporter told him he had a deadline, the businessman said, “I have been a private businessman for 30 years. I must have created or used well over 300 or 400 companies abroad and in Nigeria over that period. There is no way I can give you accurate information on two company names over a weekend when I have no access to company or legal records. Your midnight deadline is impossible.”


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  • favourtalk

    I hope he won’t deny it also. They stole much under GEJ regime

    • ‘ned

      After all GEJ was President in 2002. The name GEJ shall not depart from thy mouth. You shall meditate and speak it all the days of thy life. Ye shall mention it no matter the news and no matter the context. It shall be a scourge upon thy soul not to mention it and relate it notwithstanding that it sounds, and you sound, ridiculous when you so do.

  • Kevin Peter

    What has this story got to do with the revamping of Nigeria’s economy? Premium Times is overstepping its boundaries delving into completely personal and private issues.

  • Bigtin

    What’s the News?

  • What is the business of Premium Times in the private affairs of non-public individuals? Premium Times is violating Belo-Osagie’s right to privacy by publishing this. It is not a crime to have secret assets in Panama.

    • Darlington

      But it’s a crime to have them undeclared! Former Chairman of UBA and current Chairman of Etisalat cannot be classified as private individual.

      • John

        Thank God that we have wise and learned people in Nigeria. It’s not a crime to have off-shore assets, but it becomes a crime if it is not declared, thereby evading tax.

        • Mayo

          There is no proof that Bello Osagie evaded tax so what are you talking about? And what exactly does it mean that it is a crime if you do not declare off-shore assets? It is only a crime if a you a public official. If you are a private individual it is not a crime so far as you have paid all necessary taxes. Also, let’s not confuse tax avoidance with tax evasion. Tax avoidance means working within the legal framework (including registering companies in tax heavens) to reduce the amount of tax you get to pay. It is not illegal. Tax evasion means acting illegally so as not to pay taxes e.g. owning businesses and not registering them so you don’t pay taxes on them.

          • Jon Lawrence

            How can you be calling foreigners to come and bring their cash and invest in Nigeria, meanwhile a top business executive from Nigeria is busy hiding the money he made inside Nigeria, in some secret offshore tax haven? Does that encourage investors?
            Does it make sense to you. That is corruption. Corruption is not only when you behaved like Dasuki.

          • Mayo

            That is not corruption. Companies all over the world follow legal means to ‘reduce the amount of tax’ they are meant to pay. Multiple big companies do this by incorporating in Ireland even though they operate in Europe and America. For example in 2012, it turned out that even though Starbucks had sales of over 1.2 billion pounds for the past 3 years, it had paid no taxes because they had setup their structure such that they were registered in Ireland and the British branch was leasing ‘assets’ from the Irish branch so effectively Starbucks UK was claiming they were not profitable because they were paying all their money to the Irish office.

            Bottom line – companies will invest money in a country and then try to find a legal means of ‘repatriating’ that money outside the country without paying tax. It might not be ‘morally’ right but it is not corruption and it is a very common thing. Even MTN Nigeria did something similar

        • Jon Lawrence

          It is a crime for chairman, director of any top public blue chip company to be operating an offshore tax haven account. Those who claimed there is nothing wrong with it, ask yourself, why its done in secrecy? Why do they use fictitious addresses to register companies they cannot directly attach their own name to? Why would a bank chairman be putting his own money into another bank thousands of miles away from Nigeria in a country smaller than most state in Nigeria or local government areas, what is wrong with his own brand- UBA?
          The UBA’s selling catchphrase is: Wise Man banks with UBA & Women too. So why does he chose not to be wise by banking with a foreign bank? If the CEO of Mcdonald Restaurants is seen having a meal at Burger King Restaurant chain, though not against the law, do you think he/she will still retain their position the next day at Mcdonald PLC?
          Not everything legal is right. Those who made their money in Nigeria should not only pay all their taxes in Nigeria but should HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY of keeping that money in Nigeria to benefit the same economy that made them rich.

      • Gidi

        I seldom agree with Messrs Femi on any issue, however, on this case he is correct. Messrs Bello Osagie is a private citizen and should not be subject to the same scrutiny of public office holders.

        UBA and Etisalat are both private companies, and solely responsible to their shareholders. Using offshore tax haven is not illegal. As a matter of fact, it is more efficient way of managing fund/trust that invest in multiple tax jurisdictions.

        Assuming, Messrs Osagie was a public office holder, i will be calling for his resignation for not declaring his assets. As a private citizen, he is entitled to invest his money where he deem fit. So long as his income earned in Nigeria is subject to Nigeria tax rate, and he is not owning anything, Federal Government don’t have any business on his income earned abroad and cannot tell him where to put his money.

    • Femi Aribisaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaala ! !! !!! !!!!

    • Abdullah Musa

      The lawyer has spoken.
      So it is not a crime to make your money in Nigeria and refuse to pay tax by ferrying out that money to safe haven?

    • Reel News

      @femiaribisala:disqus

      There’s no privacy issue here. America sensed fraud and froze the New York
      bank account of Zamora Nigeria Limited on 28th January 2000. Before then,
      Bello Osagie had covertly used Zamora Nigeria Limited for illicit and illegal
      round-tripping of foreign exchange by taking dollars from the Inland Revenue
      and from the Nigerian Maritime Services and crediting both institutions in Naira.
      Bello-Osagie was the main suspect in this moneylaundering deal in his official
      post as Chairman of U.B.A.

      “Zamora Limited was found out to have been
      floated by the former UBA board and management, both of which Keem straddled.
      Zamora was created through two lawyers, Messrs Ovie Ukiri and Olasupo Sasore,
      who were mere proxies, and the company was founded ostensibly to carry on
      business as general merchants
      .” The News magazine reported.

      “While Zamora was accused of trading in foreign
      exchange in the free funds market, operating as a bureau de change and
      financing letters of credit, without valid licenses, as an authorized dealer,
      UBA plc was alleged by Centra Bank to have actively encouraged the submission
      of false returns to the regulatory authorities on the directors of Zamora Nigeria Limited.”

      • H.H. Harrson

        THAT U.B.A FRAUD INVOLVING ZAMORA NIGERIA LIMITED AS SPECIAL PURPOSE VEHICLE

        WAS THE FOUNDATION OF HAKEEM BELLO OSAGIE’S ILLICIT OVERSEAS ASSETS IN PANAMA.

        CENTRAL BANK INVESTIGATORS WERE LIKELY BRIBED TO SWEEP ZAMORA UNDER THE CARPET.

    • Julius

      Advice him to sue PT !. Good luck with that.

    • Obosi Warrior

      Excuse me Mr! This is called investigative journalism, and mind you these information has gone out to the public domain.
      It is left for discerning minds (sorry not yours) to be able to link these puzzles to the malady that has infested this nation and is almost bringing it down on its knees.
      These shell companies created by Nigerians are nothing but money laundry vessels and not only politicians are involved, a lot of Nigerian pastors are in it big time. So don’t come out here tomorrow to talk vain, by the time any of these non politicians are being scrutinized.

    • Nwa_Africa

      Aha, Femi Aribisala Nwa Chad and Somalia, you are here again? Are you the spokesperson of Bello Osagie? Do you have a secret account @PanamaPapers? They will soon reveal you and everybody will see how much you received from Jonathan last year…………………………..

    • Sir Louis

      Why would any clean person with nothing to hide or who have not taken what belongs to others have a secret account or secret business deals?

    • whales1212

      Sometimes I wonder how you reason even with your articles, is he too big to be investigated because he’s private individual, Iceland prime minister was, Cameron was? Not a crime to have secret asset if taxes on the funds are duly paid and not stolen, simple.

    • AARON AYOBOLA AJAYI

      How come you as a supposed man of God can stoop so low as to be an apologist for oppressors and the corrupt. You are a huge disappointment. You have lost all credibility and respect that people like us who have known you over the years had for you. You are a fake and should step down from your self-appointed pontification. How much are you being paid for what you do that you so debase yourself. For your information you’ve become a laughing stock in the comity of informed and discerning opinion.

    • Jon Lawrence

      Guess what? Bernard Madoff or Allen Stanford, which of them is a public individual?

  • absam777

    Premium Times please stick to exposing individuals that have or had connection with the Nigerian public service. UBA and Belo-Osagie is not a public interest news. This is pure intrusion into the private financial arrangement of a business man who happens to be a Nigerian. Your exposures to date are ok.. Don’t loose the credibility of your investigative journalism for “amebo journalism”

    • OGK

      Do you understand that these bank executives go to CBN for my and your money (public money) for their banks and in the end borrow these monies through proxies? These loans now end up a bad debt. Now, how would you say these people have not stolen public money though they are not public officials?

      • absam777

        You obviously don’t know what is public money. Your money or mine are private money. Only money from government (our commonwealth) is classified as public money. Any money you put in a bank is done at your own risk.

        • Jon Lawrence

          What does PLC mean?

    • Jon Lawrence

      When the banks were bailed out, whose money was used, public or private money? Banks are not private enterprises, they are public companies that are answerable to the public including their customers and shareholders. It shows how shallow most corruption supporters knows about things.

      • absam777

        When a government bails a company with significant public interest such as banks, it is a loan and not a grant. Much as I agree with you that banks are public companies, I still believe that the war against corruption should be better focused on those who are directly responsible for our commonwealth . You don’t have to show your shallowness by calling someone a ” corruption supporter” , as if you know him and Belo-Osagie. If you have a point of view, put it across. That is what intelligent people do.

  • Peter_Edo

    For those that are thinking that there is no crime here, think again. The accounts/companies that are in question can be used to launder money, and also be used to house capital flight all the while avoiding taxes. in case you do not know, that is A CRIME! We call it Tax Evasion.

  • Ashimi

    Premium Times is fast becoming a platform for frustrated, angry educated illeterates to conduct mob trial and justice without opportunity for self defense by individuals. Every rich man is a thief in nigeria

    • OGK

      So, are you justifying theft? You are due for perdition.
      Apostle of stealing your s not Corruption! The best part of Hade is reserved for you!!!

    • Jon Lawrence

      People like you do not surprise us whatever you say. Because many of us knew that corruption and their supporters will fought back with every arsenal and armour at their disposal whenever they are eventually confronted, including blackmail, side talk, innuendo etc.

  • Abdullah Musa

    Why should a business man open between 300 to 400 companies like pages of a fat book?

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    • New Nigerian

      Why not?

      • Jon Lawrence

        Why? Not why not. Real and genuine successful businessmen like Bill Gate must have at least 4000 companies, going by Osagie’s standard.

        • New Nigerian

          It’s called freedom – there is no law stopping you from having a million companies if you are obsessed with collecting companies for the heck of it. Just saying!

  • IZON Redeemer

    No doubt that there are lots of corruption going on in Nigeria and other parts of the globe following the CIA sponsored leak through the Panama Papers, although much of it is also considered legal. Most african elites unknowingly fell into the trap created for them by the CIA around the globe-The point is no major western Key players have been named in these papers that were obtained and held onto over a year ago through western intellgence sources like MI5 of Britain.

    With it now being confirmed that western establishment groups were behind the ‘hack’ it’s little wonder that the ‘leaks’ have been put out to only target enemies or threats to the western elites. The only western people named are underlings to those in the top levels of power in Europe and Amaerica. The top US person named so far is…singer Tina Turner a black African American woman!

    Sadly the CIA sponsored corporate media in Nigeria led by Sharia Reporters and Premium Times among other APC backed media outlets, have seized upon the so-called Panama Papers linked to the law firm Mossack Fonseca which was recently searched by the ogvernment of Panama-whose target according to Western media findings, was designed to heap condemnation on Russian President Vladimir Putin and the President of Syria Assad. So why is Premium Times involved in all these leak by the CIA–the answer is simple–Premium Times is working for the CIA and the Fulani government of Buhari————————That is why it will rather publish Panama Papers than concern itself with the invading Fulani Boko haram thugs from Niger Republic killing Ibos in the south east————–

    • John

      You are ill-informed and blind to the extent that a Barth can see clearer than you. You frame and say things you know nothing about. The CIA you accused as a body has their own troubles, when one of their own exposed what was capable to make the world go against America, when Snowden the young chap that revealed the CIA classified data and escaped to Russia. America government has been doing everything within their powers to bringing back the chap, to avail. The leak actually showed how America government tapped telephone conversations of many presents around the world, including Angela Mikhail of Germany. That a chap in the company went berserk and do something crazy wouldn’t mean CIA was involved. CIA has a partner of operations, and this is certainly not one of their ways. This one is completely investigative journalism to the core, and not the rubbish you practice here and Nigeria and regard as investigative journalism… Make use of your empty skull, and stop vomiting rubbish. Even if the CIA were involved, the question is, are the victims or culprits guilty or not guilty?????

      • Jon Lawrence

        Tell him. Corruption has ravaged some of their thinking faculties. The most pathetic is that most of them that defend corruption are the ones that whine about hardship in Nigeria the most. They are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

    • OGK

      Bruv, I pity your reasoning. You dash statistics as they suit you. Has Cameron’s dad, Ian not been named? Was David, the current British PM not a beneficiary from Ian’s activities? What of the Icelandic PM? The fact is that though such activities were legal, they were unconscionable.. Reactionaries like you would always blame PT and Sahara Reporters because the duo would not get off the back of your wicked sponsors.

  • Burning Spear

    A whistleblower who exposed mass tax fraud involving Swiss banks and US citizens has claimed the CIA is behind the Panama Papers leak. So how did the CIA came to be involved in this CIA operation, is the humble question I have been asking myself–since PT confessed to being bonded to the Apron String of the fake Internationa Investigative Journalism outfit—

    Aware Bradley Birkenfeld, who served 30 months in prison, but received more than $100 million for US tax authorities was the guy who revealed the extent of tax fraud at the heart of the Swiss banking industry in 2008.

    He it was who recently alleged that the Panama Papers scandal, cannot be exposed by a single whistleblower like himself. But that the CIA and MI5 were behind the disclosure of 11 million documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca. He said the intelligence services from the USA and Britain were responsible for the leak. Aware no American has so far been named in the leak except Tina Turner who now resides in Switzerland-What a shame—–for the journalism Profession in Nigeria

  • Alhajivinco

    What difference does it make if the CIA is involved? It’s the genuineness of the information, however leaked, that matters. Let’s rely on substance and not chase shadows.

  • IZON Redeemer

    The Western establishment has not bothered to investigate the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the organization behind the leak and which Premium Times ati Sharia Reporters claims to be members in Africa. A trip to its web page reveals its support and funding sources: the Open Society Foundations (a George Soros outfit), the Ford Foundation and a host of other foundations. Soros’ anti-Russian obsession is well-known. Less well-known is the fact the Ford Foundation is connected to the CIA and has specialized in international cultural propaganda since the end of the Second World War in Russia and Africa.

    ICIJ which settles the wages of the Fulani controlled Premium Times, is funded and organized by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a Neo Liberal “watchdog” CPI is funded by a raft of globalist interests, including the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Open Society Foundation among other one of which pèay Sharia Repèorters 45,000 a month to help do its dirty work in Niigeria.

    “The corporate media—the Guardian and BBC in the UK—and Premium Times including Sharia Reporters have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations’ sensitive information by only looking at those documents which are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters. Never forget the Guardian smashed its copies of the Snowden files on the instruction of MI6 of London. So what is the Business of Premium Times with the Files of the CIA?-ANIMALS

  • Wale

    It is a great sin to defame a human being without facts nothing written so far has proven guilt let there be further investigation and fair hearing before we start calling a fellow human being thief. I am only trying to be fair

    • Wale

      keep trying.
      The fake one.

      • Wale

        Angry poor man envy will not make you a rich man but hard work

        • Wale

          May you never achieve a third of my accomplishments, so keep trying till you DIE.

    • Jon Lawrence

      Don’t cry more than the bereaved. Osagie can speak for himself, after all, his defence was he had more than 400 companies. 400 companies, all of them outside Nigeria in places known for money laundry for a guy that started business less than 30 years ago? That should be the first red flag.

  • Nwa_Africa

    Dear Premium Times,

    Please we humbly ask that you provide us with the details of Jonathan and his wife, Tinubu and his wife , Kashamu, Obj and Danjuma @PanamaPapers………………………………..

    Thanks for your co-operation.

    Nwa Africa………………………………….

    • CovertNigerian

      Even if these people have foreign assets, as long as they were not set up by Mossack Fonsecka there’s nothing PT can do until someone releases that information.

      • Nwa_Africa

        Aha, so you think that Mossack Fonsecka did not set up any fraudulent companies for the above mentioned people? We are waiting for PT to release them to us than jumping whenever they see their names in @PanamaPapers…………………….

        • CovertNigerian

          There must be several law firms offering the same services. So assuming these people have funds in tax havens, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that these people used other firms. Unless you know for a fact that they used Mossack Fonsecka, then there is no reason to query or criticize PT.
          If their names are actually mentioned in the leaked documents, I hope their stories got told eventually.

        • Jon Lawrence

          So let us concentrate on those we have seen, until those on your list appears, we shall equally put spotlight on them. Until them, a bird in the cage is worth more than a thousand in the forest. There are more Mossack Fonsecka out there. So why worry about information you think may have existed but wanting to ignore or water down the one that is in your very lap?

    • here is it

      Reports filtering in indicates that Mr. Robert Azibaola detained by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have died in the Lagos EFCC detention centre.

      Sources say his death over the weekend may not be unconnected to his sudden degenerating health condition which led to his collapse twice in the last one week.

      Azibaola as at the time of his demise was still been held by the EFCC in its custody weeks after an Abuja High Court had granted him bail.

      In the last three weeks the EFCC had consistently tortured Mr. Roberts while also denying him access to his immediate family, lawyers & doctor.

      Just last week, Azibaola’s family was alerted by an anonymous insider of a sinister plot by the EFCC to poison Mr. Robert because he refused to co-operate with the plan of the present administration to implicate Ex-President Jonathan in a premeditated corruption hoax.

      The EFCC is yet to issue any statement on the whereabouts of Mr. Robert who has been in detention despite meeting all bail conditions since 7th April, 2016.

      No one has seen him since Thursday last week-not even his lawyers or family members. They should show him live on TV and stop every clandestine activities. In addition to that, if they decline to bring him out on live TV, they should quietly release him to his family and let him get the required medical attention. The EFCC should not be seen as partisan and stop playing games with the lives of Nigerians.

    • Jon Lawrence

      Why can’t you do that and let them do whichever they think they can do? You have free will as PM, so if you are not satisfied with their work, you are free to act on your own list. I hate when people start throwing in names anything corruption is mention. What about him and why not him etc? No where in the world is crime fought with a list in hand, that unless the person on your list is not in the net, every other crook under spotlight should be left alone

  • Onike24

    I am not entirely convinced that this is fair. where is the news here? Uber wealthy man and his equally wealthy lawyer wife have money in tax haven? How is that news? Is it public funds? Did he divert monies from public purse? I am all for fighting corruption but we detract and belittle the fight when we start accusing all and sundry of being a thief! I guess by asking we applying caution in calling PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS criminals that makes me a supporter of corruption? Being wealthy is not a crime, obtaining said wealth from public purse or criminal acts is. We must know the difference.

    • Sir Louis

      Hakeem Belo- Osagie got his financial break while serving in the Federal Government. It was after his stint as a Special Assistant on Petroleum that he now bought controlling shares in UBA. What is that?

      • Onike24

        Can you tell me how he got his financial break by being special assistant on Pretroleum? You obviously know nothing; he was a special assistant in the early eighties after attending and getting degrees from Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard! He would have made money because he was extremely well educated, and he grew up at a time when going to just one of these schools would have had a transformative effect on the life of a goat not to talk of a human being. And by the way he didn’t buy UBA for at 16 years afterwards, stop maligning the character of a man simply because he is wealthy.

        • Sincerely Yours

          “degrees from oxford, cambridge and havard” So? Diezani got hers too from an ivy league college, where is she now, and how clean? Please. Although this is not to castigate this ‘gentleman’.

          • Onike24

            Diezani was greedy and insatiable, she is a very bright woman but you cannot compare the two. Diezani helped herself to government money, he used his ability and I concede connections to make money, both are quite wealthy but are not the same.

        • Jon Lawrence

          As a Nigerian, is your first line of question, not the silliest any person could ever ask about how a person nears the corridors of power especially to do with Petroleum got his financial break and his father being the personal physician to Mr Corruption IBB’s family ? Even thickest illiterate in Nigerian village will not ask such a question.

    • taiwo

      Tax implication my friend!

      • Onike24

        How? Do you not think this is tax avoidance? It’s not a crime to limit the amount of Tax you pay, aggressive tax planning is common amongst high net worth individuals.

        • Jon Lawrence

          Do you not think its tax evasion? Why would a man in his position avoid paying any tax irrespective, while you pay yours? His so called money has every link to the system as its foundation or did you think he went to the bank to borrow a start up loan like many folks?

    • Jon Lawrence

      Your silly questions is the reason corruption festers in Nigeria. A former chairman of one of Nigeria biggest banks operates a tax haven and you do not see it as news? And he currently seats at the board of one of the big companies that make their profit in Nigeria and you do not see it absurd as a tax payer. He makes money in Nigeria and hide the profit in Nigeria to avoid paying tax on it, while ordinary folks paid tax on every dime they earn and still that is no news to know. Its either you don not understand the subject matter or like most Nigerians, corruption has taken over your psyche that you can no longer in reality world.
      The one and only reason any person keeps their money in Liechtenstein with fake companies registered in Jersey or Virgin Island is because they are doggy, trying to hide something. Because you are not in government does not make all your businesses legitimate and out of scrutiny. After all those outside government are the main suppliers of proxies they had used to siphon public money over many years. Allen Stanford is serving life today, but he was no where near government under any capacity. Based on your theory he should be released to enjoy his life.

      • Onike24

        Ordinarily I would ignore your posts because of the language you choose to use. Aggressive tax avoidance is at best immoral it is not illegal. Even the Norwegians use tax planning, why should I pay more tax than I absolutely have to? He does pay his taxes but tries to limit the amount of tax he pays. I pay tax at an effective rate of 50% of my earning, but I also work in finance so I limit the amount of tax I pay by tax planning. That isn’t criminal, and I work very hard for my money! Sanford committed tax evasion and that is criminal, the two are not the same. Avoidance is legal and evasion is a crime!People keep money in Tax havens to avoid depletion of wealth, how is that a crime? Lastly may I say that you need to differentiate those who steal government funds and those who refuse and rightly so to have their hard earned wealth depleted by multiple taxation.

  • IZON Redeemer

    The Western establishment has not bothered to investigate the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the organization behind the leak and which Premium Times ati Sharia Reporters claims to be members in Africa. A trip to its web page reveals its support and funding sources: the Open Society Foundations (a George Soros outfit), the Ford Foundation and a host of other foundations. Soros’ anti-Russian obsession is well-known. Less well-known is the fact the Ford Foundation is connected to the CIA and has specialized in international cultural propaganda since the end of the Second World War.

    Craig Murray points out that ICIJ is funded and organized by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a liberal “watchdog” group famous for portraying Patrick J. Buchanan as a white supremacy supporter during the 1996 presidential race. Murray notes CPI is funded by a raft of globalist interests, including the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Open Society Foundation.

    “The corporate media—the Guardian and BBC in the UK—have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations’ sensitive information by only looking at those documents which are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters. Never forget the Guardian smashed its copies of the Snowden files on the instruction of MI6,” writes Murray.

    • T-ben

      Cutting it to chase, what, really, is your point Mr. Ijaw ethno-crusader?
      Pure prolix!

    • Jon Lawrence

      What is your point?

  • New Nigerian

    Premium Times would get better mileage for their special access to this papers if they focus their searchlight on politicians – undue obsession with scandal or undue sensationalism will erode PT’s credibility. Question – Does Obasanjo, Atiku, Jonathan and any other Nigerian who have held public office or in charge of any MDA in the past 16 years or longer have seceret assets in this tax havens?

    • taiwo

      Agreed, but then any Nigerian can be focused on. Look at the tax & other implications of hiding such fortunes outside the country even if the fortune was made legally and legitimately.

    • Jon Lawrence

      In your own warped corrupt mind, investigative journalism on corruption is termed undue obsession with scandal and undue sensationalism. Telling them who they should investigate first before they can satisfy. Why can’t you start your own investigation on those on your list? What is stopping you Mr undue?

      • New Nigerian

        Name calling infers being linguistically challenged and your assessment of your self-worth, with due respect, as reflected in your comments requires some deep reflection. I get the culture of deference that may lead to you having an issue with plain speaking advice to PT for the public good, I however do not subscribe to it – this obsequiousness is what has led Nigeria to the quagmire it is. With that said, May you be well. Good luck as you grow.

  • Otile

    These events continue to show that Buhari and Sultan of Sokoto are planning to islamize Nigeria. They borrow money on behalf of all Nigerians to reward their relatives, Fulani herdsmen, and boko jihadists but ignore other afflicted victims of terrorism in Agatu, Enugu, and Zaria. Is this the changed APC promised people?

    • Sincerely Yours

      Is that the subject matter?

  • Rommel

    I knew we were getting somewhere as the revelations continue,Nigerians who are asking questions must understand that those who are clean have nothing to hide,why would a man go to this extent to hide money he legitimately earned? as a matter of fact,Hakeem Bello Osagie used to be my hero,I met this man when it was difficult to point to any educated young Nigerian who was well off and had not made the money through political connections,I felt that such people represented what Nigerians could strive to become until one good day,the truth hit me,I read that he was in government under president Shagari,his father was also politically connected,that was a red flag,I’m not sure I have recovered from the disappointment,to be honest,I had been expecting his name to appear on the Panama papers as I told someone yesterday and now here it is,the country needs overhaul.

    • Femi

      Hey hope you are doing good
      I disagree with the premise that clean money doesn’t need to be hidden. There are two good reasons to use the Trust device. Firstly, the largest problem in keeping wealth in the family across several generations is the behaviour of the beneficiaries (children). Beneficiary behaviour can become elitist and consumptive. The beneficiary may fail to replicate the hard work of the founder. What many trusts do is to ensure that beneficiary income is either a U shape with the bulk coming at childhood or retirement or that trust disbursements are linked to earned income. Trusts are a great way to handle spendthrift children. The second reason is that the estate transfer process is Nigeria is very hard on the marital survivor and their children. First, the state takes 10% probate fees and some other under the table expenses during the property valuation and then the process is so long and convoluted that the family suffers terribly in the interim. I know many families that had to sell property at a discount because the buyer required an indemnity and a discount of on the sale price. Some of these sales have been simply to finance the funeral or pay of debtors.

      My point is that the trust device is not illegal. In fact Nigeria has about 8 Trust companies providing exactly this type of service. Most of the local banks have trustee departments and nominee directorships. Instead what we should be questioning is the source of the funds or whether the settlor could legally set up an offshore trust under the laws of Nigeria ( E.g the laws governing political office holders) We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

      This is not a defense of any particular individual. Simply a reminder to the journalist in Premuim Times that the scoop is not whether a Nigerian was named in the Panama papers but whether the arrangement that they created was legal for their office or if the funds employed for those purposes could reasonably be held to have been stolen.

      I think the tax and the Trustee investment law of Nigeria need to be reviewed IF they are to preclude the settingf up of such structures.

      With respects as always

  • Jony International

    Nigerian has gone through this journey several times and has not learned any lesson. The successive military heads of state came to power by use of force in the pretext of correcting former corrupt regimes; those military heads of states ended up being more corrupt than the regimes they overthrew. Billions of US dollars were stolen from the federal, state and local government accounts. Their appointees – the CEO of banks, co-corporations and agencies stole no less than the generals. How long can Nigeria be an economic pariah nation?

    When Nigeria returned to a civilian government under Olusegun Obasanjo, a precedent of investigating economic corruptions of the former governments was not established. It was a missed opportunity and the generals who carted away billions of dollars went scot-free. Therefore, a dangerous corrupt precedent of stealing money by government officials and private individuals without being investigated became the norm because no person has ever been punished.

    It is the attorney general of the nation who initiates investigation of corruptions or at least advises the head of state. In the light of the Panama revelations, where is the Attorney -general of the federation of Nigeria. Most countries whose nationals lodged money in Panama have reacted. Their attorneys-general got involved – studying the revelations about their citizens to find out if any crime was committed. In the United States, both the Attorney-general and President Obama made statements to the American people to assure the Americans that investigations have started to look into the revelations. Nigeria should follow suit. Whether you are an ex-general, ex-banker, ex-head of state or a private businessman, carting away money to a tax haven to avoid tax is a crime. Again, if stealing was responsible for the billions of dollars carted away from the federation, state or local government accounts, which is most likely, then you are looking at something much more serious. The Panama papers claim that about two hundred and fifty billions of US dollars in the tax haven came from Nigeria. This is just Panama alone; what of Switzerland, US, Britain etc etc? I doubt any Nigerian army general who can genuinely claim ownership of billions of US dollars without stealing from the coffers of the government.

    Nigeria is a very wealthy nation; it does not need to borrow money. All it needs is to recover stolen money and the nation will be rich by trillions of US dollars. Buhari has this unique opportunity to create history for himself and Nigeria by creating a new precedent of accountability. Every person whose name appears in the Panama paper should be vetted meticulously and every penny or nickle that needs to be recovered should be brought back to Nigeria and punishments should be appropriated. If Buhari and Nigeria miss this unique opportunity, then Nigeria will be on its way to becoming the poorest country in Africa because of its large population.

    • Akani

      This country is a sink hole , a devil pit. I lost all respects for the leadership of this country.

    • AARON AYOBOLA AJAYI

      SOLID.

  • Otile

    This Alhaji Hakeem Belo guy looks very much like Lamido Sanusi Lamido of Kano emirate. Utangirma Allah.

  • Femi

    I think its important to note that tax avoidance is not a crime and that trusts and foundations are used to control the expenditure of second generation beneficiaries. For a non government official, having a trust scheme is NOT a crime. After all NIgeria has about 8 trust companies that do the same thing in Nigeria. The question that needs answering is what are the sources of this income? If the source is legitimate, genuine settlors should be left alone. If the money kept in trusts has been stolen then by all means go after the settlor.

    We should not throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Trusts are a legitimate way for someone to decide how money will be spent by his beneficiaries after he/she may have passed on. If we want to outlaw the trust device as an estate transfer tool then we may as well outlaw wills. Not everyone wants to pay the state 10% tax on estate duties and wait up to a year for their children to get school fees and maintenance money.

    Lets be reasonable.

    This report seems to be saying that all trust devices are wrong simply because they are private. That doesnt make sense at all. Reporters should dig into earnings sources and not demonise a method of estate transfer that is actually available to even persons of modest means.

    This isnt Paris in 1789

    • Jon Lawrence

      Mr Paris 1789, what you read, was it in tune with tax evasion or tax avoidance? You must have known Mr Osagie, more than he knows himself, to be putting up some your feeble defences in a case you knew next to nothing about it or are you Osagie in disguise?

      • Femi

        You have addressed none of the points I raised. While I used the instant case as a peg to hang my argument I have not made a personal argument for any individual. The point is that offshore trusts are not prima facie illegal. They must be deconstructed by laws in force, source of funds, and terms of the trust. Nigerian banks have trust departments and carry on nominee business under the Trustee Investments Law. None have been closed down nor any criminality attach to persons who are settlors or beneficiaries of such trusts. A Nigerian trust cannot hold overseas property, only a foreign trust can do that. I pointed out that quite apart from tax consideration the main reason for such trusts is to protect beneficiaries from their own behaviour.

        I hate corruption with a passion and believe it should be treated as terrorism against the state but at the same time I do not believe that criminality should be imputed to every settlors merely by reason of the setting up of an overseas trust or corporation ( by non public officers)

        My contribution is on the basis of 36 years of legal experience and being a believer in functional civil society. I voted for Mr President and I will do so again. Mr President and the MoJ are not criminalizing trust creators, it is the press that is doing that. The press must do more than label, it must investigate deeper and truly make distinctions between criminality and multigenerational wealth management.

  • OmoLasgidi

    FIRS needs to use these tax avoiding trusts to confirm if these individuals evaded tax and demand back taxes from them, or send them to jail for tax evasion!

  • Jon Lawrence

    Every cancer requires an aggressive cancer in order to stand any chance of remission. They should pass a law making it a crime for any offshore account owner to be director of any company in Nigeria and if done by proxy shall met the with the same treatment.

  • Wale

    We need to cultivate good habits when allegations are made we should pressure relevant agencies to prosecute and those guilty punished according to the law. A situation where allegations are made and everyone pounces on the an those alleged without fairness does not speak well of supposedly civilised people. Mobile justice is good to let out frustration please be on top of your emotions and don’t give yourself hypertension