Documents recently obtained by PREMIUM TIMES and its ICIJ partners have revealed how a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Funsho Kupolokun, acquired loads of lucrative shares between 2009 and 2014 to become a major shareholder in one of Ghana’s most expensive and lucrative hotels.
In 2016, details from the leaked Mossac Fonseca’s database, known as #PanamaPapers, revealed that the Septuagenarian, who was an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was a major shareholder of Gold Coast Resorts International Limited, an entity incorporated in the British Virgins Island in 2006.
Gold Coast Resort International Limited is the owner of the 269-room five-star Kempinski Accra Hotel. Mr Kupolokun, we revealed, had held his holdings in Gold Coast Resort with another company, Blue Chapels Investment Limited, incorporated in Mauritius, a known tax haven.
But new documents recently added to the database have shed additional light on how Mr Kupolokun, who was named director of Gold Coast Resort on August 11, 2008, acquired a collection of shares between 2009 and 2014 to become a major shareholder of the top-notch hotel.
According to the documents, on July 15, 2009, the former NNPC boss shelled out $2 million to acquire 1.8 million shares, with certificate number 3.
On February 7, 2011, Mr Kupolokun topped his holding with the acquisition of 405,000 shares valued at $502,184.70 from Bethana Investment Inc, another shareholder.
Mr Kupolokun then transferred his shares, totaling 2,205,000, to Blue Chapels Investment Limited, his Mauritius-based firm, on February 19, 2013.
Also, on September 18, 2014, Mr Kupolokun bought additional 775,195 shares which cost him $861,328.00. That brought his total share in the hotel to 2,980,195.
Responding to a PREMIUM TIMES enquiry in 2016 when the original revelation was published, Mr Kupolokun confirmed he owned interest in Gold Coast Resorts.
“That was after I left office,” Mr. Kupolokun said. “The first money I invested was two million dollars, and I got that from UBA.”
Gold Coast Resorts is made up of other offshore entities, with its largest shareholder (45 per cent) being Zakham International SA, a shell company registered in another tax haven, Luxembourg.
At least two other shareholders of Gold Coast Resorts – Bethana Investments Inc and Uridor Investments SA- were registered in Panama, another well-known offshore tax haven.
The government of Ghana, through the Ghana Tourist Board, owns 10 per cent of Gold Coast Resorts, which has since obtained a controversial $16 million loan facility from the African Development Bank (ADB), to finance the construction of Kempinski Accra Hotel.
Gold Coast Resorts dumps Mossack Fonseca
Following the 2016 leak of 11.5 million files from Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm said it suffered “irreparable damage” and “reputational deterioration” and thus would shut down its offices at the end of March.
“The reputational deterioration, the media campaign, the financial siege and the irregular actions of some Panamanian authorities have caused irreparable damage, whose obligatory consequence is the total cessation of operations to the public,” it said in a statement.
Earlier in November 2017, the firm, in a statement sent to clients, said it had to “significantly reduce” its staff due to changes to the laws and an “adverse business environment.”
Perhaps in anticipation of the winding down of Mossack Fonseca’s operation or in a move to hide from the exposure of the company’s activities in the wake of the leak, the board of Gold Coast Resorts decided to dump the Panamanian law firm.
In a meeting held on September 27, 2017, Mr Kupolokun alongside, five other members of the company’s board of directors – George Zakhem, Marwan Zakhem, Ian Robertson, Stanislav Kotov, and Albert Zakhem – resolved to change the registered agent of Gold Coast to Quijano & Associates (BVI) Limited in Road Town, Tortola, the capital of the British Virgin Islands.
It also changed its registered address to that of its new agent indicated above.