Not less than four assets hidden in offshore territories and belonging to the wealthy and famous family of Senator Bukola Saraki, have been uncovered. However, the President of the Senate has failed to declare them to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) as required by Nigerian laws.
This unraveling truth came to the public by efforts made by internal data of the Panama-based offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca. It was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with over 100 media partners in 82 countries. Unfortunately for Senator Saraki, this could worsen his case as he battles to extricate himself from allegations of corruption.
In a written response to ICIJ, the Senate President insisted, through his UK lawyers, that he would declare his assets properly in accordance with the relevant legislation, and that the charges against him are both unfounded and politically motivated.
Last September the CCB slammed false asset declaration charges on Mr. Saraki, accusing the Senate President, among other things, of failure to declare his assets in full. Under the code of conduct law, a public office holder is required to declare his own assets, those of his wife as well as assets in the names of his children below the age of 18.
In his declaration form, Mr. Saraki listed property owned by his wife, Toyin Saraki, to include a plot of land at Lekki valued at N5 million, which he said was a gift he received in January 1989. Mrs. Saraki was also listed as owner of a property at 15 Bryanston Square, London W1 and 69 Bourne Street, London. While the first, which rental income was put at £48,000 with a value of £900,000, was acquired in January 1989, the second, which value was put at £2m and had rental value of £150,000, was acquired for business in April 2000.
However, a fresh investigation by press men uncovered a hidden London property in the name of Toyin Saraki but which was left out among the assets declared by the Senate President. The hidden property is located at No. 8 Whuttaker Street, Belgravia, London SW1W 8JQ. It has title number NGL802235.
Similarly, the Senate President stated in his assets declaration form that his wife held an account in Eco Bank Broad Street, Lagos, where she had N1.5 million at the time he became governor in 2003. She also maintained an account in Coutts & Co Strand, London, where she owned £450,000 and $125,000 in addition to $3 million in Northern Trust International Banking Corporation Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner.
Mrs. Saraki was also listed as maintaining substantial shares in European and American Trading Company, Tyberry Corporation and Eficaz Limited just as she held 500,000 shares, valued at £500,000, at P.C.C (U.K) Ltd. He was however silent on the number of shares the former first lady had in Haussmann and Tiny Tee (Nig) Limited.
According to the declarations of Mrs. Saraki, three additional overseas assets in the name of the wife of the Senate President were hidden from the authorities and are missing from the assets declaration form.
Meanwhile, according to investigations by Premium Times, it was revealed that Mrs. Saraki owns secret companies in some notorious tax havens.
Here are the Hidden Assets
The first, Girol Properties Ltd, was registered on August 25, 2004 (a year after Mrs. Saraki’s husband became governor of Nigeria’s north-central state of Kwara) in the British Virgin Island (BVI). Company documents show that Mrs. Saraki owns 25,000 numbers of shares with a par value of US$ 1,00 each, and was appointed the first and only director of the company.
However, it remains unclear what businesses Mrs Saraki transacted with the company. Mrs Saraki however, in a letter to ICIJ, through her lawyers, denies ever owning any shareholding in Girol Properties.