#PanamaPapers: Lawyer hired by Nigeria to track Abacha loot has 178 firms in tax havens

Late Sani Abacha

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, a massive leak of secret documents belonging to offshore shell companies has revealed.

Mr. Monfrini was hired in 2000 by the then new civilian government of the country to help establish the existence of and repatriate over $4 billion allegedly looted by former military dictator, Sani Abacha.

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.

The revelations are among the findings of a lengthy investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organizations – including PREMIUM TIMES.

PREMIUM TIMES is the only Nigerian publication involved in the investigation, which lasted a year.

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.

Mr. Monfrini is a founding partner of Monfrini Crettol & Associates, one of the most recognised legal services providers in Switzerland.

In 2000, Mr. Obasanjo hired Mr. Monfrini’s firm to help recover Abacha loot, which was estimated to be more than $4 billion at the time.

According to Mr. Obasanjo, Mr. Monfrini helped the Nigerian government secure the release of N267 billion–$1.34 billion.

PREMIUM TIMES is unable at this time to determine if the Nigerian government still workswith Mr. Monfrini till this day or whether his contract with the federal government expired.

As at December 2010, Mr. Monfrini was the director of the following offshore companies in tax havens:

Director of 17 PMA (Panama) company in ACT status.
Director of 3 BVI company (British Virgin Island) in ACT status.
Director of 1 PMA company in CAR status (to others)
Director of 38 PMA company in DIS status
Director of 1 BVI in DIS status.
Director of 44 PMA company in INA status.
Director of 65 PMA company in MOR status.
Director of 6 BVI company in MOR status.
Director of 3 PMA company in REN status.

Mr. Monfrini could not be reached to comment for this story.

His secretary, who gave her name simply as Beatrice, told PREMIUM TIMES during a telephone conversation that her principal was “on a trip outside of Switzerland.”

Mr. Monfrini didn’t reply email seeking comment.

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