In Nigeria, about four in 10 persons may be poor, with the figure reaching about nine in ten in some states, as they earn less than N377 daily, according to a 2019 estimate by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), but not these Nigerians who have now been seen to possess multibillion naira assets.
Not many of them would be seen on the Forbes’ wealthiest list, but these 21 Nigerians are worth a treasure.
According to filings of their businesses with their offshore financial managers, Trident Trust Company (BVI) Limited, as of October 2016, they had a combined treasure worth about $100 million and £77.3 million in assets, cash, bonds, equities, mutual funds and property holdings controlled by the Standard Chartered Bank in Guernsey, Jersey and the U.K.
Another two owned assets worth $511,860 and 50,000 pounds in Standard Bank, Jersey.
At the Central Bank of Nigeria’s exchange rates of N410 trading for a dollar and N558 to a British pound, this is equivalent to about N84 billion.
At the black market, the assets are worth N117 billion, with an American dollar trading for N575 and the British pound, N775.
It is unclear if the assets have been withdrawn in part or in whole. If not withdrawn they would have appreciated significantly in value.
The said Nigerians are among the more than 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 public officials, and some 130 billionaires from over 91 countries and territories, whose massive fortune was a part of assets and deals kept in offshore tax-havens.
These Nigerians, listed below, include two former military governors, a former minister, an erstwhile presidential adviser and some of Nigeria’s leading business people.
The exposé, sourced from a multi-terabyte volume of leaks retrieved from 14 offshore services firms from around the world, has already highlighted a global cast of influential politicians, businesspersons, fugitives, convicts, celebrities, football stars, judges, tax officials, spy chiefs and many others as having assets offshore.
It is a part of PREMIUM TIMES’ two-year collaborative efforts with the global International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)-led Pandora Papers project, said to be the biggest cross-border investigation into how a litany of world powerful people kept vast amounts in assets in opaque offshore jurisdictions.
The companies help their clients set up shell companies and design non-transparent structures to conceal their financial dealings, through trusts.
Why Nigerians may opt for trusts for assets
Under Nigerian laws, it is not illegal to own offshore companies or trusts as they can be used for legitimate purposes. However, some experts believe the arrangement are mostly used to hide assets, avoid or evade taxes or carry out criminal acts.
A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, known as a trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
The arrangement is what wealthy Nigerians often opt for due to what some describe as lack of confidence in their country’s economy, currency fluctuation, limited foreign exchange capacity, and unstable government policies. Some say the the country’s tax regime is too stringent and discourages them from leaving their assets here.
Experts have urged the Nigerian government to expand the tax net and not the tax rate in order to plough fertile land for more local investments to thrive and discourage the huge desire for foreign currency.
Amid Nigeria’s naira slump to around N575 for a dollar this week, the currency’s weakness and instability against the dollar is also another reason for some of the country’s wealthiest persons to save their money in dollars in what they considered secured jurisdictions, experts say.
When monies made in Nigeria are not ploughed back into the economy, the naira loses value and it rubs off on the overall economic well-being of the country, Femi Owolabi, a financial analyst with Stanbic IBTC, said.
“[Taking investments abroad] reduces the investor confidence in Nigeria which has a negative impact on the nation’s stock market and the GDP,” Muhydeen Tiamiyu, an analyst with Fortress Capital, also noted.
Assets and Illicit financial flows
However, sometimes these monies could also be a conduit for unscrupulous public officials and known criminals to fret away funds through offshore companies sometimes under the guise of a service provider for local agencies or companies, according to the World Bank.
Tax havens and offshore companies also boost illicit financial flow to other jurisdictions away from the country in which the wealth is made. Between 2006 and 2015, Nigeria accounted for $8.3 billion in illicit financial flows, ranking among the top 30 nations, according to the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) report published in 2019.
These losses are what a member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on IFF (FACTI Panel), Irene Ovonji-Odida, said are responsible for fiscal deficits, regressive taxation, criminality, low public trust, and weak rule of law, among others.
The United States of America-based research and advocacy group had said IFFs bled Nigeria for as much as $157.5 billion in revenue between 2003 and 2012.
The World Bank described the lost funds as “money illegally earned, transferred, or used that crosses borders.”
There are, however, no evidence of any financial infractions on the part of these Nigerians. Yet, their huge wealth highlights the inequality of wealth distribution among Nigerians.
The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men – $29.9 billion – could end extreme poverty at a national level, yet 5 million face hunger, according to Oxfam.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has vowed actions to determine and punish possible tax offences following the Pandora Papers investigation.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, a spokesperson for the FIRS, Johannes Wojuola, said the service will go after people reported in the leaks and suspected to have broken the law.
“If there are any persons who are suspected to have a taxable asset by Nigerian laws among the revealed pool, the applicable processes with regards to investigation, charges, enforcement procedures … as well as prosecution for tax offenses, would be enforced,” Mr Wojuola said.
The Affluent Nineteen and their assets
These wealthy people ranged from former military and civilian leaders, businesspersons and members of their families.
In each of the accounts they own, there is usually a nominee director who is a resident of tax havens and paid to sit on boards of companies to represent the interests of, and operate as a shadow of the real owners of offshore firms.
Who are they and what do they own?
1. Hakeem Adebayo Folawiyo and Lisa Folawiyo
Hakeem Adebayo Folawiyo and Lisa Folawiyo belong to the third generation of the Folawiyo dynasty, a wealthy family whose earlier patriarchs were popular for their wealth in the southwest of Nigeria, especially Lagos.
Records show Mr Folawiyo is one of the two directors and a shareholder of Kinexus Data Service Limited, a Lagos-based company registered in 2016. He is also a director of Folawiyo Energy Limited.
Before it was dissolved 14 years ago, the 48-year-old business mogul served as a director at Lacemere (UK) Limited.
Lisa Folawiyo, 45, a fashion designer, is the founder and director of Lisa Folawiyo Studio, a fashion line she founded in 2005, where she sells ready-to-wear Ankara textiles by fusing “traditional patterns with contemporary silhouettes that are hand finished.”
She was the 2012 Africa Fashion Award winner and made the Business of Fashion’s BOF500 list in 2015.
Both Folawiyos are settlors and beneficial owner of the Zayzac Trust which is in turn owed by their offshore company, Capela Holdings Limited. The trust was, as at October 2016, worth $300 million and £2.2 million (about N1.7 billion) in cash, bonds, equities and mutual funds and property holdings and managed by Standard Chartered Trust (Jersey).
They co-own the BVI company, Allendale Properties, worth $1.5 million and £2.5 million (about N2.8 billion), kept with Standard Chartered Bank Jersey.
In total, the duo have an asset worth N4.5 billion in the bank.
2. Harry Thakurdas Thadani and Bindu Deepak Bakshani
Mr Thadani is a Nigerian who lives in Nigeria with Indian ancestry.
Born October 1969, Mr Thadani is an industrialist who has had stints as the director of companies, including Good Food Product UK Limited, a UK-based packaging company incorporated in 2004 that has since been dissolved.
Alongside Bindu Deepak Bakshani, also a Nigerian but with Sri Lankan origin, Mr Thadani owns a company, Divina Holdings Limited, which was worth £1,554,000 (N593.5 million) in cash, bonds, equities and mutual funds and property holdings kept with Standard Chartered Trust (Jersey).
The duo also owned offshore firm Pink Coral Trading Limited which had 808, 900 pounds (about 627 million naira) investment portfolio with Standard Chartered Bank Jersey.
3. Gregory Friday Uanseru
The president and CEO of Greg Continental Agency (GCA) Energy Limited, Gregory Friday Uanseru, whose credentials shows he deals in machines and equipment in the oil and gas industry, owns Heritage Group International Limited.
Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey, helped the oil magnate oversee a £2.9 million worth of property, $66.1 and £2.3 million in cash, bonds, equities and mutual funds.
4. Stanley Adeniyi Jegede
Mr Jegede owned Latote Assets Limited, HG Properties Limited and Latote Trust. Through the three entities, he had assets worth $1.7 million and £1 million kept with Standard Chartered Bank in Jersey.
This means the 54-year-old chairman of Phase 3 Telecoms had about N1.8 billion worth of treasure in offshore companies.
5. Andrew Folorunsho Alli
Among other top corporate positions he has held home and abroad, which included being the CEO of Africa Finance Corporation, Andrew Folorunso Alli serves as the CEO of Southbridge Group, a pan-African financial advisory firm, and non-executive director at MTN Nigeria, CDC Group, a U.K. government-owned DFI and of the Development Bank of Nigeria.
The Nigerian-British was the ultimate beneficial owner of offshore firms Zigzag Africa Limited, Zigzag Trading Limited and the Zigzag Trust. The three entities held assets worth $3.9 million (approximately N2.3 billion) with Standard Chartered Bank (Jersey).
6. Aderemi Muyinudeen Makanjuola
The patriarch of the Makanjuolas, Aderemi Muyinudeen Makanjuola, chairs the Board of Caverton Offshore Support Group, and using Bramble Offshore Limited, he had assets worth $4,000 and £3 million with the Standard Chartered Bank (Jersey).
7. Adeniyi Ibraheem Makanjuola
Adeniyi Ibraheem Makanjuola, 41, co-founded Caverton Helicopters, a subsidiary of his father’s parent company. Alongside Oludarafunmi Clarissa Makanjuola, 39, he owned Templefield Investments Holdings Limited which kept its assets worth £9.5 million (N7.4 billion) with Standard Chartered Bank (Jersey).
8. Chukwudalu Udemezue Mba
The consultant in financial services has Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) as a trustee of the Goree Trust owned by his offshore firm, Aravale Investing Limited. The company kept £606,700 (N470.2 million) in cash, stock and bonds with Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey.
9. Emmanuel Chukwuma Edozien
The late economist, who served as the chief economic adviser to the late President Shehu Shagari, died in 2019, aged 82.
He owned the offshore firms: Erico Investments Limited, Larimer Holdings Limited, Mayqueen Properties Limited, Petalina Investments Limited, BEC Trust and Betemen Trust.
All assets are worth $42 million (N24.1 billion) and £2.7 million (N2.1 billion), totalling N26.2 billion in shares, bonds and property kept with Standard Chartered Bank in Jersey and London.
10. Anwar Manssour Jarmakani
The self-made industrial entrepreneur, who in 1963 migrated from Syria to Nigeria, where he has since been naturalised, is the founder and executive chairman of Jagal, a Nigerian conglomerate holding that deals in energy businesses and manages a diverse portfolio of investments.
Mr Jarmakani, 72, through his Starstone Holdings Limited, had $2,300 and £8.9 million (both N6.9 billion) worth of assets which included properties. The assets were kept with Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey.
11. Jonathan Tunde Ogbeha
The retired general, 74, was the administrator of Akwa Ibom and the defunct Bendel States during the military era and a two-term senator for the Kogi West constituency of Kogi State.
Documents from his financial dealing said he dealt in wireless telecommunication activities. Through his BVI company, Red Devils Investments Limited, he kept $5 million, (which is some N2.8 billion) with Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey.
12. Jubril Adewale Tinubu
Jubril Adewale Tinubu, the group chief executive of Oando PLC, owns Sloane Square Limited Investment Holdings which had $4.9 million (N2.8 billion) with Standard Chartered Bank, London.
13. Rilwan Olakunle Tinubu
Rilwan Tinubu is CEO of Nigerian company, Trojan Estates Limited. However, through his Wren Finance Limited and The Madison Trust, he held assets worth $14,100 and £4.9 million (totalling N3.8 billion) with Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey.
14. Muhammad Sani Bello
The retired colonel, a former military administrator of Kano State and ex-ambassador to Zimbabwe, is the father of the incumbent Niger State Governor. He chairs Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company Limited and Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited.
In 2013, Forbes ranked him 38th among Africa’s 40 richest people with a net worth of $500 million. In today’s worth, that’s N287.5 billion.
Mr Bello, 78, owns offshore firm Sandel Holdings Limited which kept a princely $39,800,000 (N22.9 billion) treasure in cash, bonds, equities and mutual funds with Standard Chartered Bank London. The assets are managed by Standard Chartered Trust, Guernsey.
15. Narenda Lakhi Chukni
The Indian-Nigerian, 56, with investments in real estate management, owned BVI firm Javelin Properties Limited. He had his $3.3 million (N2.6 billion) worth of assets in Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey.
16. Olufemi Peter Otedola
The billionaire businessman, with interests in oil and gas and power generation, owns Hampshire Venture Property Holdings Limited, a British Virgin Island company. That company and Mr Otedola’s Fenman 2 Settlement kept $34.4 million (N19.8 billion) with Standard Chartered Bank, Jersey.
17. Omatseyin Akere Ayida
Mr Ayida is CEO of Ruyat Oil Limited and board member of Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited. He is also the owner of Sunnysky Ventures Limited and the Akene Ayida Trust through which he kept $545,800 (N313.8 million) with Standard Chartered Bank, London.
The investment portfolio is managed by Standard Chartered Trust, Guernsey.
According to Trident Trust records, two other Nigerian business people: Atedo Peterside (former Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Bank) and Abayomi Aderemi Awobokun (CEO, Enyo Retail & Supply Limited) also had accounts with Standard Chartered Bank branches in Jersey and Singapore respectively. But the values of the assets are unknown.
While Mr Peterside owned ANAP Overseas Investment Limited and its associated trust, Atedo N.A. Peterside Overseas Trust, Mr Awobokun owned offshore firm, Kun-Smata Limited and the Kun-Smata Trust.
Trident Trust’s records also showed that two other Nigerians, including a former permanent secretary, had assets at Standard Bank, Jersey, which claims to provide offshore banking for individuals, corporate organisations and high net-worth clients.
1. Adedoyin Adebusola Adeyinka
Mr Adeyinka, 50, is managing director of Nigerian oil and gas firm, Acorn Petroleum Plc. He was also associated with CS Offshore S.A., a Panamanian shell company.
The businessman had 511, 860 dollars with Standard Bank Jersey through his Zang Worldwide Limited, a company he incorporated in the Isle of Man. Lumbro Nominees Jersey Limited is sole director of the company.
Mr Adeyinka also owns The Phillips Trust (for which Access Trustee Company Limited serves as trustee).
2. Phillips Asiodu
Mr Asiodu, 87, a retired permanent secretary, was special adviser on economic matters to Presidents Shehu Shagari (1983) and Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 to 2001). He was also minister for petroleum and mineral resources (1992 to 1993).
Mr Asiodu owned the offshore company Apolina Limited and the Philip Asiodu 1992 Voluntary Settlement which he created on October 23, 1992.
The former minister told his offshore business manager that the wealth held by the Trust originated from “savings, rents from existing properties, gratuity and retirement benefits and subsequently re-investment of some dividends.”
“The UBO (ultimate beneficial owner) retired from the Nigerian Civil Service in 1975 after serving in the position of Permanent Secretary for 10 years. He then set up a company incorporated in Nigeria called Medife Limited for consultancy, feasibility studies, advisory services on mobilisation of funding for new ventures,” Trident Trust said in one document.
The trust, which had a balance of 50,000 pounds in its account as of December 12, 2016, has since been dissolved.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated with the removal of home addresses of the named individuals. That was done for the privacy and security of the individuals.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999