#PanamaPapers: How Tinubu Operated 12 Shell Companies in Tax Havens

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Wale Tinubu

Last October, Nigeria’s biggest indigenous oil and gas company, Oando Plc, made history for the wrong reason when it announced a loss of N184 billion in the 2014 financial year.

The loss was the biggest ever recorded by any Nigerian company.

While its shareholders bore the brunt of the bleak financial year, the company’s Group Chief Executive, Wale Tinubu, and his deputy, Omamofe Boyo, might be doing just fine as they had for years incorporated and operated a cluster of shell companies in notorious offshore jurisdictions.

Tinubu seems to be making so good a return from his shell companies that in 2008, he agreed to pay a front as much as $20,000 monthly to manage all of his offshore transactions.

Details of the offshore assets of the two top bosses at Oando Plc were among the revelations contained in the leaked massive internal data belonging to Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

The revelations are products of an investigation, spanning over a year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organisations across the world.

Documents from the huge database linked Tinubu to at least 12 shell companies.

According to an online news portal, Premium Times, Tinubu, documents showed, secured the services of Mossack Fonseca to help him incorporate the companies in Seychelles, one of the fastest growing offshore jurisdictions in the world and notorious tax haven, the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

The documents also reveal that Mossack Fonseca coordinated the operation through its offices in Geneva, the British Virgin Islands and Panama.

The documents show that Tinubu is a director in the following companies incorporated in Seychelles and the BVI:
Sigma Technology Inc.; Techventure Inc.

Anglesey Management SA; Caine Trading Corp; Keligh Engineering Corp
Hud Trading Corps; Meridian Procurement International Services Ltd; Lynx Shipping Ltd; Equinox Shipping Limited; Everglade Oil Inc.; Framlingham Limited; Triton Trading Limited

Investigation revealed that Tinubu is either the sole director of most of the companies or has unlimited powers to make decisions.

For instance, files from the data revealed that on November 26, 2009, after a meeting of the “board of directors” of one of his shell companies, Keligh Engineering Corp, Tinubu was granted a general power of attorney as the sole signatory of the company.

The ‘board meeting’ where this decision was made was attended by three nominee directors, – Yvette Rogers (Chairman), Jaqueline Alexander (secretary), Verna de Nelson, who are actually employees of Mossack Fonseca.
Nominee directors are appointees used in offshore tax havens to hide true owners of shell companies.

Rogers had also served as nominee director in Stanhope Investment limited, Seychelles, one of the shell companies used by the imprisoned former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, to steal the resources of his oil-rich state.
As part of its #PanamaPapers series, it was revealed how Mossack Fonseca helped Ibori, who is serving a 13-year jail term in the United Kingdom for money laundering, hide funds stolen from Delta State treasury through a web of offshore companies.

In May 2007, Just like Ibori, the Oando boss also secured the services of Swiss asset management firm, Clamorgan SA, to help him incorporate Techventure Inc., Anglesey Management SA, Caine Trading Corp and Keligh Engineering in Seychelles while appointing Mossack Fonseca Geneva as registered agent and administrator for the shell companies.
On May 2, 2007, Sebastien Thierry of Clamorgan S.A, who had acted as signatory for one of Ibori’s shell companies, wrote a letter to Sonia Scampa of Mossack Fonseca, thanking her for verifying and assisting in registering the companies, as well as granting Tinubu the power of attorney.

“Following my mail yesterday and our conversation today, I reiterated the confirmation sent yesterday morning taken the following companies – Anglesey Management SA, Caine Trading Corp., KLeigh Engineering Corp. Thank you for making a power of attorney for Mr. Wale Tinubu for three companies,” he wrote in French.

It remains unclear why Tinubu hired the same offshore consultants used by Ibori to run his offshore companies. But in September 2013, British prosecutors told a court that Ibori confessed to owning “significant” shares in Oando Plc.

According to crown prosecutor, Sasha Wass, a Queen’s Counsel, while opening an account at Swiss bank, PKB, through a shell company called Stanhope Investment, Ibori told the bank he owned 30 per cent of Oando.

Oando had denied that Ibori’s wealth was hidden in the company. The company at the time circulated a statement claiming that Ibori only had 443 shares of the company’s 6.8 billion ordinary shares.

The documents also revealed that apart from relying on nominee directors appointed by Mossack Fonseca to hide his ownership of shell companies in tax havens, Tinubu also hired a paid front who acted on his behalf in some of the offshore companies.

In a December 10, 2008, email to Marie-Ange (an employee of Mossack Fonseca in Geneva), Sebastien Clamorgan of Clamorgan SA revealed that Tinubu hired a front, Patrick Bastin, to act on his behalf in his offshore companies.
According to the email, Bastin was handsomely rewarded for this role. He was paid a salary of $10,000 monthly and given a corporate visa card which allowed him to spend up to $10,000 monthly.

Bastin was paid from Everglade Oil Inc’s account with a private bank in Beirut, Lebanon.

“It is agreed that M. Patrick Bastin will be acting as a director for certain of Mr J.A. Tinubu companies and in this capacity will be managing all upcoming administrative commercial and financial tasks, inclusive the relationship with the several banks the companies may have bank accounts with,” the email read.

“For this task M. Patrick Bastin will be compensated by a monthly payment of US $10 000,00 (ten thousand US $) to be paid to the bank account he will indicate.

“The account of EVERGLADE OIL INC No 239783 with Audi Saradar Private Bank seal in Beirut Lebanon will be responsible to set up a standing instruction for those payments to start on November 1 -2008.

“In addition, M. Patrick Bastin will be entitled to a Corporate Visa card from Everglade Oil Inc for expenses up to SS 10,000 per month to be justified after to M. J A Tinubu.

“This agreement can be terminated at any moment by M. JA. Tinubu with one month notice,” the email stated.
The documents also showed that some staffers of Oando Plc were on some of Tinubu’s incorporation of shell companies.

After the resignation of one Kirk Thompson, who is believed to be the original nominee director for Tinubu in Everglade Oil Inc., on December 14, 2007, Daniel Boyo (it is not clear whether he is a relative of Omamofe Boyo), a London-based business development consultant with Oando Trading Limited, a subsidiary of Oando Plc, sent an email on January 11, 2008, to Thierry instructing him to contact Everglade Oil agents in Seychelles to draft a new certificate of incumbency for the company, mentioning Terry Cunningham as its new single director.

Documents show that Seychelles is particularly an attractive offshore destination for several top Nigerian businessmen.

Several shell companies owned by Nigerians in tax havens were incorporated in the small Indian Ocean country, with a population of just under 90,000 people. They were registered as International Business Companies (IBC).
Seychelles IBCs are among the most popular IBCs in the secretive world of offshore jurisdictions. IBCs incorporated in the Seychelles are prohibited from doing businesses within the country or owning real estate. They are not required to pay taxes, submit financial details or carry out audits on their finances.

An email sent from Mossack Fonseca’s office in Seychelles to Saria Rahme Kali of Afrex and Mr Clamorgan requesting details of the bearers of the shares of a cluster of IBCs domiciled in Seychelles revealed the extensive involvement of Nigerians in offshore tax havens.

The document revealed that Sayyu Dantata, the half-brother of Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, is linked to seven IBC – Appelby Holding Ltd, Juno Equities Incorporated, MRS Holding Ltd, MRS Oil and Gas, Nisco Holding Ltd (60 per cent), and Oval Refining S.A, Ovlas S.A (50 per cent).

Similarly, Adetokunbo Sijuwade, the son of the late Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuwade, is the director of Mandhari Water Investment Inc. and Izwelethu Aluminium and Steel Inc.
Tinubu’s deputy, Boyo, was listed as director in three IBCs- Everglade Oil Inc, Meridian Procurement International Services, and QVS Ltd.

Nigerians Abiose Eldred Ogan-Cole and Mojisole Adeniran both own 50 per cent share each in Qaisar.
Attempts to reach Wale and Boyo to respond to the allegations proved abortive.

  • AmaraMr ikwuegbu

    thieves in apc

  • Nigeria4u

    He is the nephew of chief Bola Tinubu, Bola Tinubu is using Wale. Majority of corrupt Nigerians are from North and South West.

  • Okwuchukwu David

    I don’t think my comment on this issue will make any meaning.

  • Olumide Soneye

    Offshore tax heaven. Nigeria is already a tax heaven.Who among the Nigeria Business men pay the required taxes? Tinubu, Dangote, Saraki, Obasanjo, Babangida, Badeh, etc?

  • Rzg

    Big deal !!!! This report is nonsensical to say the least. It is not against any law, not least in Nigeria, to start or operate a company in an off shore jurisdiction, whether it is in Panama, British Virgin Island or Niger republic for that matter. The writer of this article is dumb and stupid. The fact is that a difference must be made between tax evasion and operating an off shore company. For international business reasons, it is actually smart to have holding entities in offshore jurisdictions like Panama etc, as this is acceptable to intermnational institutions. As long as all these are declared for tax purposes then there is no problem.

    • Olumide Soneye

      The writer started with the following statement “…Oando Plc, made history for the wrong reason when it announced a loss of N184 billion in the 2014 financial year…”

      Don’t you think the loss could be related one way or the other to the offshore companies?

      • Rzg

        A big fat no is my answer to your question. I do not think so because the writer has not provided any scintila of evidence to that effect. What he has succeded in doing is displaying his ignorance of the use of off shore jurisdictions for corporate entities.

        If there is concrete proof that Tinubu indeed evaded taxes, cheated OandO using off shore strutures, then he should have provided such proof, rather than insinuate wrongdoing in his headline, only to proceed to discuss details which are normally public information in those jurisdictions in question, thus spewing out his ignorance for all to read.

        In the scheme of things, it actually makes sense for business people in Nigeria to seriously consider setting up off shore corporate structures to hold assets outside Nigeria, for diversification purposes and especially with the ‘up today-down tommorow’ value of the Nigerian Naira. This is not againt the law except such structures are used for Money Lundry, or tax evasion. If the writter does not have proof of these ills against Tinubu, then he should shut up and educate himself, instead of insulting our intelligence!!

  • bikky

    We are waiting.

  • Tanko

    You can choose to sit here and bemoan the countries woes or you can look for ways to make MEANINGFUL alliances like Wale Tinubu so he can teach you how to make money and have your own shell companies. Its only in Nigeria that the rich are all presumed thieves. No money is genuine. I dash you SENSE my people

  • Sam

    I do not understand how anyone can say that Wale bankrupted Oando to fund a campaign. What will be the benefit in bankrupting your own company?
    Those who payed close attention would know that the companies loss was due to the crash in oil price and a decision to revalue assets by the management of the company.
    If there is anything illegal, which I do not see in a business man with accounts offshore, then that is to be dealt with by the law. If there were any misappropriations of Oando’s shareholders funds, then that will be a case for the SEC when they have hard facts, not just based off of baseless allegations.

  • ZINNI

    Does EFCC has the technical knowledge to unveil this clumsy investigation of absolute secrecy? unless the western world would need to lead EFCC on this

    • Olumide Soneye

      This one will be too complicated for the EFCC or Buhari. Even simple case like that of Dazuki, Badeh, Saraki, Metuh, etc cannot be successfully prosecuted to its final conclusion.

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  • Olusegun

    What has the report and copious amount of analysis and investigation revealed? To me, investments in tax heaven has been the norm for the super rich. I do not understand how Wale Tinubu has broken the Nigeria law. Did he commit any crime by investing or registering businesses in tax heaven? Even when Cameron, the PM of Britain, who invented all of these business philosophies, also invested in the said tax heaven and he benefited immensely from it. Nigerians like sensational reporting. I am sure we will turn these panama paper hype into our own in Nigeria. Moreover, Wale is a businessman and happens to be the cousin of the Jagaban. Any attempt to robe BAT in will be vehemently resisted and fought. Political wailers and enemies of Asiwaju will shamelessly look for anything to malign his person and tarnish his image

    But the fact remains that Arabambi is one of the principal actors that masterminded the ouster of GEJ. No amount of blackmail, innuendos etc will move him.

    Wailers will continue to wail, while Jagaban will continue to wax stronger.

    • Milito

      Yes we agree but that therefore exonerates Saraki whom he has been witch-hunting. With BAT out there, Saraki ought to be ordained a “saint”

    • RICHARDSON

      For your information, David Cameron did NOT invest in the said tax haven. You must base your contribution on facts, please.
      Tax havens are there for people or companies that do not want to pay taxes that are due to the countries where such people or companies carry out legitimate business. These tax haven have become the headquarters of questionable business practice and ethics.
      So, get your facts right before you write next time before you expose yourself to serious claims.

  • Abidilagungun

    Boyo, is that not the one Bola Tinubu was putting forward as NNPC gmd? God will reveal your ‘evils’ even before the Judgement Day

  • hyperbole123

    its not a sin to have accounts in tax havens if youre a private citizen. we just like excitement here. who should have tax haven account if not over-sharp people like dangote and tinubu and otedola? poor man no sabi where panama dey. na dia luck. but if na public dough dem carry open the ‘akant’ na where wahala go dey

  • Toby

    Last week EFCC promised investigating the “Panamagate” not realizing that more names will be made public. Interestingly one of these names is Wale Tinubu who fronts for his uncle, the Jagaban, the national leader of APC, the ruling party of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Same Wale under the instructions of the Jagaban bankrupted Oando to fund General Buhari’s presidential election and enjoyed hobnobbing with Aisha Buhari.

    We now wait, watch and listen to EFCC. More names are coming because there are millions and millions of pages of the Panama files.

    But first the shareholders of Oando must as a matter national importance occupy the Oando building and demand that Wale Tinubu and his deputy step down because in this dispensation the EFCC belongs to the Jagaban.

    • okinba launko

      He bankrupted oando, ah I thought you people said Buhari’s campaign was funded with Lagos state money. Make up your minds now?

      • RICHARDSON

        You are trying to trivialise Toby’s comments or the information now freely available following the Panama papers leak but you are too late. There will be more revelations, anyway, and those things done in secret always become public knowledge.
        Funding, especially for elections can come from more than one source, my friend.

        • KlasJ

          The huge loss declared by oando did not come from fictitious campaign funding but from its foray into the risky upstream sector of oil industry which market unfortunately collapsed after it had obtained loans to finance acquisition of marginal oil wells. Finance charges alone was debilitating.

          • RICHARDSON

            Thanks for the information but that makes Toby’s comments about the responsibility of the shareholders of Oando relevant because it appears that a faulty management decision resulted in the monumental losses declared. The decision was not based on well-founded research not available to off-shore companies due to the clandestine backbone of their modus operandi.

          • KlasJ

            Decision to diversify to upstream was approved by the shareholders prior to the investment. Remember that oando proposed to spin off its downstream sector that time.

            Depending on your risk appetite, the more the risk, the more the profit. If everything had worked fine, shareholders would have been beaming with smiles because monumental profit would have been declared.

            The oil price crash to the level it fell was not envisaged even by many governments including Nigeria at that time.

          • RICHARDSON

            No!
            Please, the forecast was everywhere about the possible oil price crash long before it happened. The alternatives of shale gas fracking method created it and was available for a very long time before it became the reality that it is today.
            If any oil producing country, or organisation in the business of oil failed to take this fracking seriously then that country or organisation is held responsible for the resultant consequences.
            Anyway, I am not a shareholder of Onado (I cannot afford it) so that is it.

          • KlasJ

            I did not say there was no inkling of price crash, I said, the LEVEL it fell to was not envisaged. Even IMF and Poors revised their forecast up to five times till as late as November 2014 when the crashing was already on.

            When IMF predicted $20 per barrel in its last revision, some forecasting agencies and governments po-oohed it but it was nearly realised.

            Even with shale oil, oil majors were still making heavy investments in traditional exploration. They too burned their hands only that they have better shock absorbers.

          • RICHARDSON

            Please, let us not get bogged down to discussing the pros and cons of Oando decisions. The reality of oil price is here and will not go away. There will be speculations about price of oil just like there are speculations on other commodities and currencies but forecasting and investing takes in more parameters to consider than price speculating.
            Maybe, you are a major player for Oando (and honestly, I wish Oando well), the exchange of commentary between us should come to end here. I am not a shareholder of Oando (maybe I would have been if I had the money) but Toby’s comments and advice to the shareholders has my support. Sorry, nothing personal please.

          • Daniel

            Exactly my reply to him. I am focused on shell companies that Wale Tnubu may have been a front for BAT.

            Buhari must show courage, I draw my conclusions that the anti-corruption is one-sided.

          • Ade Whenu

            Dear Daniel,

            With immense respect to you I am baffled how the circumstances sounding Wale Tinubu concerns Buhari. From the unverified information doing the rounds, you have jumped to a disappointing conclusion and almost implying criminality on the part of Wale Tinubu. In my opinion hê should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

            Yes if the circumstance warrant and he is investigated and found culpable in anyway then through the book at him. Until then let us not tarnish and undermine this man’s reputation and image.

          • Daniel

            I am sorry we are not on the same page.

            It is so easy for the South West press to jump to the defence of Tinubu by touting legality and evidence. This is someone who has a huge dossier on corruption by Ribadu. But politics and ethnicity have kept it low profile.

            Very truly, is Saraki’s case different from Tinubu’s case ?Had he not been stubborn to step down from the senate presidency seat, we would not have been fed to this drama.

            The country only exists in name not substance to be proud of. Our politics is for heroe worship and corruption. Develop is not part of it.

          • Daniel

            What is good for the goose, is good for the gander. Saraki is facing trial for bankrupting Kwara State.

            Tinubu Senior cannot escape justice. This will be the true test of Buhari’s courage.

            Let us not be too academic on Oando’s problems. We must rather focus on the real issue.

            Segun Adeniyi, Dele Momodu and the likes should investigate and tell us whether Wale Tinubu is a front for BAT on this crucial matter. We are fighting corruption.

            No ethnic sentiments.

          • kenn

            Anyone who would as much as read their financial statements as far back as 2009-2011 would know of OandO. Especially with regards to this shell companies with which they milk OandO assets in the name or M&A.

          • ZINNI

            Yes,just like IBB did to our $12.3Billion gulf windfall,intention mis management into a loss,and a profit to the looters companies

          • Ade Whenu

            Again a perspective premised on supposition and assumption. So in your opinion Oando oil, should ignore the tenets of theit article and memorandum of association and suprecede this with Toby’s suggestion. May God have mercy with all these our so called intellectuals with superior argument as Toby likes to describe it.

          • Milito

            Wow! You seem to be their internal auditor . So certain of where the loss came from. What is EFCC doing to recruit you?

          • KlasJ

            How did you know they made a loss? I will answer for you. They themselves published it in their financial statements. A very bulky document that may not make meaning to many people but which provide much of the information that non-insider financial experts use evaluate a company.

            If you are their shareholder, you are compulsorily entitled by law to receive the financial statement annually. If you are not a shareholder, you can download from their website or obtain a copy from the libraries of SEC or NSE or other stock exchanges around the world where their shares are listed. It is a public document.

          • Ade Whenu

            Klasj please do not exhaust your energy trying to make a blind man see. I have immense respect for most of the guys that post comments, particlar the ones that profess knowledge. However you will at least expect them to have referenced the financial statement of this company before making authoritative comments. .

          • Sincerely Yours

            Isn’t that wishful thinking – ‘to expect them to have referenced the financial statement before making comments’.
            How many of these lot refer to any facts before making comments. Don’t hold your breath.

          • ZINNI

            Please don`t make yourself too important,it is just balance sheet simple RATIOS analysis,

          • Mazi JO

            The reason they have a PLC tagged to OANDO’S logo. Don’t blame them. Our NIPOST is non-functional so they get away with everything regarding mailing obligations. Who knows if Annual reports are being printed anymore! The business world in our clime is actually spinning on its head.

          • ZINNI

            You must have be their management accountant and financial controller,or even a board member.

          • KlasJ

            My reply to Milito below applies to you too.

      • Full blooded Nigerian

        Amaechi was also accused of same.

      • ZINNI

        abi oo

      • Toby

        So you think his election was funded from one source? Which politician has ever done that, both here and overseas?

      • Damianesque

        I thought it was Rivers State money that funded Buhari’s campaign. These guys should just make up their minds.

        • Victor

          Stop attempting to divert attention bro, campaign funds can come from several sources. Amaechi stole Rivers blue black to co-fund the campaign.

      • afroblacco

        Nobody ever said that . But Tinubu had fleeced Lagos for the entire Fashola’s tenure .

        Cornering the state by using his companies to be collecting tax on the state government’s behalf .

        Those funds ,including formerly looted funds while Tinubu was governor, and similar arrangements made in Amaechi’s Rivers, formed the nucleus of monies that funded Buhari’s campaign !

        That is what people have always claimed !

      • Chukxharry

        His election could have been funded by multiple sources. Is Rotimi Amaechi from Lagos State, have you not heard that he was part of the crowdfunding of Buhari’s election? Toby’s point is unequivocal, don’t get it twisted,just because you wanted to stand defence for some person(s).

      • Victor

        Lagos and Rivers states money were part of it. Don’t even try to pretend.

    • Full blooded Nigerian

      Are your comments based on facts? The note to oandos account would have given the reason for the monumental loss suffered by the company.

      Beyond that, did the shareholders not ratify the decisions of the board of directors and further extend their tenor?

      Let’s discuss issues without sentiment of any form?

      • KlasJ

        When I made my comments above, I forgot the forum I was. I actually wrongly thought the posters had read the financial statements of oando. Imagine people confusing liquidity with profitability.

        So if a company make N180bn loss, it means somebody physically siphoned N180b liquid cash out of the company’s bank accounts. Many here apparently don’t know about corporate governance but would rather use sentiment to argue matters that require financial literacy.

        • RICHARDSON

          On my part I exchanged the dialogue with you because of your level of contribution and earnest desire to present your facts.
          I took every statement from you with the seriousness you showed and I would not have spent my time with you if I considered your comments to be from any person who came to waste out time with abuses and name calling.
          So, please, I did not estimate our exchanges as anything but informative.

          • KlasJ

            I should take it that you are the only Richardson on this forum and my earlier contributions had been direct replies to you because I found your interventions matured. When I was less busy I came back to the forum, I saw your penultimate post about a company not engaging in speculation. I agree and wanted to make my contribution to that but you said in that post that you had ended our exchanges of commentaries. I respect your wish and I didn’t reply to that.

            My later comments were not addressed to you and I put them under the people I was replying to. They were for people alleging that I must be an insider of a company before I can make an informed contribution on financial analysis. Imagine.

            FullbloodedNigerian’s post contain element of somebody who is knowledgable in accounting which I can relate to, hence you saw my reply to him.

    • Clario

      So true. Some of us invested our hard earned money in Oando….. hoping to make returns. The company only declares losses even when others are making profits!!! I am calling on all Oando shareholders, major and minor even insignificant shareholders to protest the continued stay of the present management. No serious company retains a CEO like Wale after the monumental losses declared. SEC should also protect shareholders by sacking the management if the shareholders can’t get rid of them. If bank executives like Akingbola and Ibru could be shoved aside I don’t see why Wale should remain. They never ran their banks to this monumental loss levels!!!