African Union (AU) High Level Panel (HLP) on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) has called on African countries, including Nigeria, to investigate citizens whose names were mentioned in the International Panama Paper scandal.
The release of documents by a Panama offshore financial provider, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has revealed records of top secret financial dealings of over 128 politicians and public figures, including Nigerians.
A statement signed by the Chairman of the panel and a former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, stated that the number of persons involved and the amount of illicit activities exposed by the Panama Papers shows that African countries must be proactive in their actions against financial crimes.
“Not least significant in these findings were matters relating to Tax Havens and/or Financial Secrecy Jurisdictions and the lack of transparency with regard to the Beneficial Ownership of firms.”
“The information released in the Panama Papers thus far strongly confirms the findings in the HLP report. More so, they confirm the existence of a network of offshore accounts and complex investment vehicles that drive tax avoidance and evasion. Until now, warnings against such vehicles have been taken lightly.”
Similarly, a civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has also called on the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Mr. Sam Saba, to as a matter of urgency investigate current and immediate past high-ranking public officers whose names have been mentioned in the Panama Papers scandal and others who are maintaining and operating or have maintained and operated foreign accounts in other safe havens and jurisdictions.
Top Nigerian celebrities, billionaires and politicians whose names have been linked to the scandals includes the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his wife, Toyin, former Senate President, David Mark; a retired Army General and former Defence Minister, Theophilus Danjuma, former Delta State governor, James Ibori and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and his oil-magnate brother, Sayyu Dantata.
Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has however,described President Muhammadu Buhari as a man of integrity as his name has not been found in the Panama documents scandal. Buhari is a man of integrity, a Nigerian leader whose name has not been found in the Panama documents,” he said.