#ParadisePapers: Nigerian govt to investigate users of offshore tax companies — Adeosun

WBG-IMF CONFERENCE -1
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun and Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele

The Nigerian government on Tuesday said it will investigate users of offshore tax shelters recently exposed in the ongoing Paradise Papers global investigation.

The Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, said the Federal Ministry of Finance’s data mining project would use data provided on Nigerians from the leaks to crosscheck tax declarations.

Mrs. Adeosun, who spoke to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, noted that with the increasing global focus on illicit financial flows and tax evasion, offshore tax shelters no longer offer robust protection against tax authorities.

She said the continued use of such schemes poses enormous risks for the users, stressing that the #ParadisePapers leaks were just the beginning of what is likely to be a ”systematic unravelling of the offshore tax haven system.”

The #ParadisePapers investigation is an offshoot of a leaked data obtained by German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ, from two offshore secrecy providers (Appleby and Asiaciti Trust) and 19 secrecy jurisdictions.

The leaked 1.4 terabyte data, now dubbed Paradise Papers, contains 13.4 million records and is no doubt one of the biggest leaks in history.

For a year, more than 380 journalists from 96 media organisations in 67 countries pored over the gigantic data, which cover a period of nearly 70 years, from 1950 to 2016.

More than 120 politicians and country leaders, in nearly 50 countries, as well as hundreds of business people across the world were identified in the records as users of offshore entities.

PREMIUM TIMES, the only Nigerian newspaper involved in the investigation, has already reported how Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor, Godwin Emefiele; and Zenith Bank Chief, Jim Ovia, operated offshore tax firms.

The Paradise Papers’ documents come a year after the publication of Panama Papers in April 2016.

Mrs Adeosun urged Nigerians to cooperate with the government by ”paying the right taxes to both the Federal and State Governments in order to provide the much needed funds that will improve the lives of Nigerians.”

She also advised Nigerians to ”review any existing tax planning schemes, including those in offshore tax havens, in order to take advantage of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their tax status where necessary.”

“The critical question to be asked by all Nigerian tax payers using offshore tax shelters will be whether all applicable taxes have been paid prior to the transfer of funds or assets to a tax shelter.

“If all taxes had been paid, then there will be no additional liability except tax payable on further income earned on those funds. However, if taxes had not been paid, then the use of such schemes is illegal,” she said.

Mrs. Adeosun counselled users of such structures to seek professional advice, explaining further that the Federal Ministry of Finance was offering free training to professional advisers on the VAIDS to enable them support their clients.

She urged users of offshore tax shelters to promptly embrace the VAIDS scheme to regularise their tax status, adding that Nigeria’s low tax revenues were at variance with the lifestyles of a large number of its people and with the value of asset owned by Nigerians resident around the world.

“VAIDS ushers in an opportunity to increase the nation’s general tax awareness and compliance. It is a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to regularise their tax status relating to previous tax periods.”

She spoke on the benefits of the VAIDS.

“In exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed asset and income, taxpayers will benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties, and with further assurance that they will not face criminal prosecution for tax offences or be subject to tax investigations.”

The Minister maintained that sanctions await defaulters who refuse the Federal Government’s offer of tax amnesty, including the full payment of outstanding tax liability and criminal prosecution.


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  • Jon

    It has been reported that it was tax avoidance transaction which is legal and not tax evasion with is illegal. So, Government should move on to the next big issue as no laws were broken.

    • Tunji Olarewaju

      No laws broken? Were those assets declared by the public officials involved? One doesn’t need to be a lawyer to know a great number of laws have been broken

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    Adeosun, did you not hear what Saraki said?
    He said clearly that he does not see anything wrong with regards to his name being found buried in the #ParadisePapers!

    Judging by what Saraki has done and gotten away with in Nigeria from Societe General Bank bankruptcy, Kwara State government disappearing funds to Kwara (Shonga) farms debacle to Senate financial sleight-of-hand, save your breath and just focus on getting stolen monies; such as those of Abacha in JERSEY and the ones in #PanamaPapers back for the use of the common man!

    • Rommel

      What do you expact when president Jonathan had decalred that stealing was not corruption, would hiding of loot be?

      • share Idea

        …And you developed amnesia when your thing god Buhari claimed that Abacha never stole from Nigeria, while his administration is signing agreement on recovering Abacha’s loot. Nigeria we hail thee

        • Rommel

          Go and find out how the so called Abacha loot originated, perhaps you will begin to understand

          • share Idea

            Since you know the details. Please can you share with us. Nigerian we hail thee

  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    Adeosun is blowing hot air , the leader of the Saraki klepto-dynasty does not care, he will continue to run rings round you and your lazy boss at Abuja.

  • kayode Olufade

    Madam, please shut up! You are going to waste millions of naira and maybe dollars to investigate a matter that will amount to nothing. Instead, that money should be used to help sme’s grow

    • share Idea

      Thank God that someone is reasoning like me. The numerous scandals at heart of this government have not been investigated, and this lying administration wants to disturb our peace with their propaganda of trying to investigate supposed criminals.

      • Primo Compatriot

        Talk about jumping on the bandwagon. Hahaha … Dem don hear say na #paradisepapers dey reign now so to show they are working hard; while hardly working, Kalamity Kemi had to blow some smoke for relevance. Make dem go siddon. There are more pressing issues than this ethical vs legal dilemma of tax avoidance …

  • Rommel

    Time has come for Tax evasion to become a felony in Nigeria, nations developed through taxes while Nigerians wish for government to develop the country first before imposing taxes, a stiffer penalty should hit tax defaulters, people are lining up at embassies to developed worlds without knowing that those places developed with taxes.Enough said about this, all we need now are actions.

  • Rommel

    A good place to start would be to publish who has paid what and how much political office holders and political appointees have paid in taxes since 1999,I should be able to know how much president Obasanjo has paid from his incomes as retired general and former president,same goes to former ministers, national assembly members, ambasaddors, heads of paratatals, all political appointees including at states and local government levels, we should have the list of how much all these people whose incomes came directly from public purse paid so far,we must get serious, what percantage of income is taxable? how come tax related matters do not feature in elections in Nigeria? the last time we heard about taxes in Nigeria was under Babangida administration when he issued a decree exempting those whoe income was 5000 Naira and below from paying taxes, so what about those above this threshold, have they been paying? an what percentage of income tax is payable?