A former Governor of Anambra State indicted in the Pandora Papers investigation, revealing names of influential people keeping their wealths in coded, allegedly tax-evading scheme, Peter Obi, has defended himself.
He said he did not declare the assets allegedly traced to him – in the investigation involving some 600 journaliststhe likes of The Washington Post, the BBC, The Guardian, and Nigeria’s Premium Times — at the Code of Conduct Tribunal because they did not belong to him alone.
He said he was obliged to declare only asstets he solely owed.
“I don’t declare what is owned with others. If my family owns something I won’t declare it. I didn’t declare anything I jointly owed with anyone,” Obi told Premium Times.
The online medium said the investigation was based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.
In all, there are 336 politicians listed in the document, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the earth-shaking papers on Sunday. The document contains some Nigerian politicians.
Premium Times said contents of the document would reveal how some of the most influential Nigerians – a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, current and former state governors, past and present lawmakers, businesspeople, a popular pastor, and many others – set up shell companies, and sometimes warehouse huge financial assets, in notorious secrecy jurisdictions.
The first series published on Monday said former Anambra State governor Peter Obi of keeping secret assets he did not declare to Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
In 2010, more than four years after Obi became governor, Obi reportedly set up his first discreet company in the British Virgin Island, and named the company Gabriella Investments Limited, after his daughter.
Premium Times reports that Obi contracted Acces International, a secrecy enabler in Monaco, France, to help him incorporate an offshore entity in one of the world’s most notorious tax havens noted for providing conduits for the wealthy and privileged corrupt political elites to hide stolen cash.
According to the newspaper, Obi also paid Acces International to provide nominee directors for the company — these directors are residents of tax havens paid to sit on boards of companies to hide the identities of real owners of offshore firms.
Acces International officials, who reportedly took briefs from Obi and or his representatives, headed to the British Virgin Island where they contracted a local registered agent – Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (Alcogal) — to set up Gabriella Investments Limited for the former governor.
Obi, however, claimed he could not have made such a declaration on assets he co-owned with others.