More names of politicians and elites fingered in the Pandora Papers — a fresh leak of massive financial documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), have continued to emerge.
This is as Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state was alleged to have been among eminent Nigerians whose wealth and assets are hidden in offshore locations around the world.
Earlier, The New Diplomat had reported that the ICIJ on Sunday released leaks which exposed financial secrets and offshore dealings of over 330 heads of state, public officials and politicians from 91 countries and territories.
According to one report by Premium Times, the Governor during his time as a Senator in 2010 sent a delegation to Singapore to search for a haven to shelter his wealth he acquired during the regime of former Nigerian head of state and dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.
According to the leaks, Bagudu helped Abacha to loot several funds. The governor was said to have amassed huge wealth working with Abacha in the 1990s.
The leaks further alleged that Bagudu contacted the services of Asiaciti Trust, a firm notable for helping clients hide assets and wealth in offshore safe havens.
On “February 23, 2010, Bagudu’s delegation – comprising his brother, Ibrahim Bagudu, and London lawyer, Ben Davies, from Byrne and Partners, now a part of PCB Byrne – met with Asiaciti’s officials to register his preference for a new structure of secrecy to conceal the flow of his stolen wealth.
According to the leaks, “Asiaciti helped Bagudu to set up a multi-layered structure with footprints in at least three countries, namely Singapore, Cook Islands, and the United Kingdom. At the head of the structure is Blue Holdings Trust, registered in Cooks Island as a “purpose trust” to “wholly” own a Singapore-incorporated private trust company, Blue PTC Pte Ltd., with Mr Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, and an Asiaciti nominee as directors.”
Before now, Governor Bagudu was said to have played an instrumental role in the Abacha conspiracy to steal and launder billions of dollars belonging to Nigeria.
Though Governor Bagudu was yet to officially react to report, his lawyers, Nicola Boulton of PCB Byrne were quoted to have said: “all monies held by the Blue Trusts are lawfully held,” as they made reference to one 2003 agreement between Bagudu and the Nigerian government under the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Abacha on November 17, 1993 took the reins of power after sacking an interim Head of State of Nigeria, Chief Ernest Shonekan. Abacha remained in power, till June 8, 1998, the day he passed away. However, since his demise his name has continued to resonate for mostly the wrong reasons of corruption, fraud and financial embezzlement.
Nigeria, through help from international countries have recovered several monies stashed away in four major countries: Switzerland, Jersey Island in United Kingdom, United States and Liechtenstein.
In 1999, during the era of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, $750 million was recovered. In 2002, under the adminstration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo $1.2 billion was recovered; in 2003, $149 million was recovered from Jersey Island, UK.
Also in 2004, $500 million was recovered in 2004 from Switzerland and another $458 recovered in 2005 from Switzerland.
During the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, $1 billion was recovered in 2012 and $380 million in 2015, both tranches from Switzerland. The Jonathan administration also recovered $227 million from Liechtenstein in 2014 and $48 million from the United States the same year.
Also, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari recovered $322 million from Switzerland in 2017 and $308 million from Jersey Island, UK in February 2020 which is the most current.
The Panadora Papers leaks which were released on Sunday exposed financial secrets and offshore dealings of over 330 heads of state, public officials and politicians from 91 countries and territories.
The leaked details which obtained information from over 11.9 million confidential files, was complied by more than 600 journalists from 150 news organisations around the world.
Earlier, it was reported that a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, was also alleged to have set up a discreet company in the British Virgin Island, and named the company Gabriella Investments Limited, after his daughter.
The former governor was alleged to have 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.
However, Obi has denied any wrongdoing while reacting to the leaks.