A corruption-tainted London mansion that the Buhari administration had targeted for confiscation now belongs to Nigeria’s president-elect Bola Tinubu’s son through an offshore shell company, which is also linked to the politician’s surrogates.
The Tinubu connection with the property – 32 Grove End Road, London – as well as its link with a petrodollar fraud investigation in Nigeria was first revealed by PREMIUM TIMES as part of the Pandora Papers investigation. But in a new report on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Seyi Tinubu is a beneficial owner of the property through shell company Aranda Overseas Corporations, citing UK company documents.
Using leaked documents from Pandora Papers, PREMIUM TIMES previously reported that Aranda was incorporated in November 1999 in the British Virgin Islands by Mr Tinubu’s trusted surrogates – Gboyega Oyetola, former governor of Osun State, and friend Eluyemi Eludoyin. The incorporation was done months after Mr Tinubu assumed power as governor of Nigeria’s business capital Lagos State.
But Seyi Tinubu’s connection has only just been revealed by Bloomberg after the UK enacted a new law requiring foreign companies investing in the country’s property market to declare their beneficial owners. Mr Tinubu and his son, Seyi, refused to respond to enquiries by Bloomberg on the matter.
Seyi, who was active in his father’s campaign, is a businessman, known for his interest in advertising.
Bought from a fugitive at £8 million discount
Documents obtained from the UK property register revealed that in July 2013, the property with title number 340992, was bought for £11.95 million by Zavlil Holdings Ltd, a shell company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a notorious tax haven. Further documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that Zavlil Holdings Limited is owned by Kolawole Aluko, an international fugitive wanted by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria and the United States for money laundering.
Kola Aluko and his associate, Jide Omokore, were indicted in the US and Nigeria for multi-million-dollar fraud and money laundering violations allegedly in collusion with a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria filed a Mareva injunction at a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking to confiscate a list of properties belonging to Messrs Aluko and Omokore valued at $1.8 billion.
A Mareva injunction is a court order which freezes the assets of a defendant pending the outcome of litigation.
In the suit against Messrs Omokore and Aluko, alongside their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, the Nigerian government asked the court to grant it seven orders to prevent the accused from disposing of the assets. The government alleged they were acquired through fraudulent means.
The third prayer the government made to the court was to grant it an order restraining the accused “from giving any instruction, demanding, accepting, receiving payments and/or transacting, transferring, mortgaging or howsoever dealing in any manner with assets of the Defendants in both houses and land in Abuja and Lagos and others located outside Nigeria.”
The government then listed 17 properties in Abuja, Lagos, the U.S., Canada, Dubai, Switzerland, and the UK.
Among the listed properties was “Grove End Road, London”.
The court granted the government all its prayers. In October 2017, an attempt by the defendants to dismiss the Mareva injunction granted on the properties was subsequently dismissed by Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, the trial judge.
But just around the time (on October 18, 2017) the court dismissed the defendant’s attempt to dismiss the injunction, documents obtained from the U.K. property register revealed that Mr Aluko sold the house for £9 million to Aranda incorporated by Mr Tinubu’s surrogates, Messrs Oyetola and Eludoyin.
The huge discount at which the property was sold is curious and raised questions of whether Mr Aluko desperately needed to sell the property even while a court of law had placed a freeze order on it.
The United Kingdom, especially the greater London area, is noted for its rapid increase in the value of properties. According to PREMIUM TIMES’ calculation of the likely value of the property when it was bought by Aranda Overseas Corporation done on the website of the UK’s National Building Society, which is the largest building society in the world, the property should be worth approximately 17 million pounds. Thus, Mr Aluko sold the property at a discount of £8 million.
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Mr Tinubu uses the property for his stay in London and photos from there became popular online when the politician was hosting political figures there while convalescing in 2021. President Muhammadu Buhari whose government had sought had targeted the property for confiscation was one of the guests.
Read PREMIUM TIMES’ original report on the property here.
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