EXCLUSIVE: Mossack Fonseca dumps ex-NNPC boss after Panama Papers revelations

NNPC Headquarters, Abuja
NNPC Headquarters, Abuja

After a PREMIUM TIMES investigation revealed how a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Abubakar Yar’Adua, bought a £890,000 home in London while still in office, infamous offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca, which was at the centre of the global leak known as Panama Papers, resigned as the registered agent of his secret offshore company, Hydrocarbon Assets Investments Limited.

The investigation was made possible from documents retrieved from Mossack Fonseca’s database and obtained by German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with PREMIUM TIMES and other media organisations around the world.

But fresh documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES has now revealed that Mossack Fonseca cut ties with Hydrocarbon Assets Investments Limited for not fulfilling the law of the British Virgin Island and the due diligence requirement.

The secrecy provider was miffed that Mr. Yar’Adua did not disclose to it that he was a politically exposed person, and that he violated Nigerian law by engaging in private business while holding public office.

So days after PREMIUM TIMES ran the story on the former NNPC boss, an email from Mossack Fonseca dated March 23, 2017 gave his firm a 90-day notice to look for another agent as required by BVI law.

It added that if by the expiration of the 90-day notice, Hydrocarbon Assets Investments Limited failed to employ another registered agent, it would have no choice but to completely cut ties with the firm and that the company would be removed from the register of companies.

“Please be advised that if the Company does not change its Registered Agent by (date 90 days from the letter to the director), we will proceed to file a notice of resignation as the Company´s Registered Agent. Kindly note that Section 215 of the BVI Business Companies Act 2004 stipulates that if the companies are struck off the Register then unless restored, the Company, its directors, members and any liquidator or receiver may not commence or defend any legal proceedings in respect of the company or act in any way with respect to the affairs of the company. We therefore urge you to change Registered Agents as soon as possible,” the email read.

Mr Yar’Adua, who served as the head of the state-owned oil corporation from August 2007 until when he was fired in January 2009, bought the house in 2008, document obtained during the original investigation  revealed.

In April 2008, Mr. Yar’Adua used a London residence address at Beechwood Hall, Regents Park Road, London N3 3AT to register Hydrocarbon Limited in the British Virgin Island, a known tax haven used by corrupt public officials, money launderers, celebrities and businessmen dealing in illicit finance.

To cover his track, the documents revealed, Mr. Yar’Adua prepared a corporate smokescreen by appointing two front companies, Gudson Limited and Roselle Limited, to act as directors of Hydrocarbon Assets Investments Limited.

But other documents revealed that the former NNPC GMD was the sole director of the company on November 7, 2008 but resigned on the same day after appointing Gudson Limited and Roselle Limited as directors of the company.

More documents scooped from the Mossack Fonseca files showed how Mr. Yar’Adua used Hydrocarbon Assets Investments Limited to secure a loan from Dexia Private Bank Limited in Jersey.

He used the credit to purchase a property worth £890,000 in London. Dexia Private Jersey Limited, Hydrocarbon Assets Investment Limited and Mr. Yar’Adua signed the loan agreement on November 18, 2008. The loan was effected on December 2, 2008.

The property is located in a freehold estate at 28A North Crescent, Finchley, London N3 3LL. It was registered under the title number NGL624398. A freehold property refers to outright ownership of a property and land on which it stands. The owner of the land has no time limit to his period of ownership.

Following his exit from NNPC, Mr. Yar’Adua returned to Hydrocarbon to reclaim his position from the two directors holding who held fort for him.

In 2010, the two Directors, J. Nizbeth Maduro, representing Gudson Limited and Bryan Scatliff, representing Roselle Limited, returned the power of attorney to Mr. Yar’Adua who soon became the authorized signatory to a bank account moved from Jersey to Luxembourg within the same bank, Dexia Banque International.

A meeting of the Board of Directors of Hydrocarbon Hydrocarbon Assets Investments Limited was held in August 2010 at the Registered Office of the Company, Akara Building, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Three resolutions were reached, one of which was “to grant as is hereby granted a Power of Attorney in favour of Lawal Abubakar Yar’Adua of passport No. A01418738 of 28a North Crescent, London N3 to act in accordance with the powers described on the page annexed hereto’.

The meeting also “resolved to approve and authorize Mr. Lawal Abubakar Yar’Adua of 28a North Crescent, London N3 to be authorized signatory on the account to act individually and to sign all the documents and account opening forms in connection with the account with Dexia Banque International  Luxembourg.”

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