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.
Mr. 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 organizations across the world. Wale Tinubu Wale Tinubu PREMIUM TIMES is the only Nigerian media organisation involved in the investigation.
Documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the huge database linked Mr. Tinubu to at least 12 shell companies. Mr. Tinubu, documents show, 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). Foramfera 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 Mr. Tinubu is 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 Ltd Everglade Oil Inc. Framlingham Ltd Triton Trading Ltd Investigation reveal that Mr. Tinubu is either 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, Mr. 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. Mrs. Rogers had also served as nominee director in Stanhope Investment Ltd, 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, PREMIUM TIMES had revealed how Mossack Fonseca helped Mr 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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Tinubu hired the same offshore consultants used by Mr. Ibori to run his offshore companies. But in September 2013, British prosecutors told a court that Mr. 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, Mr. Ibori told the bank he owned 30 per cent of Oando.