All eyes on Nigerian politicians as Panama leak exposes secret offshore accounts


    Those eager to know the enormity of funds stashed abroad by Nigerian leaders in tax havens in the #PanamaPapers may have to wait a while.

    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is in possession of the leaked documents, says it will release all the details “early May”.

    Following the startling revelations that serving and former world leaders used Panama-based offshore service provider and law firm, Mossack Fonseca, to stash away billions of dollars in tax havens, Nigerians are eager to know how many of the country’s politicians and business moguls are involved.

    The leaked files exposed the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world.

    The cache of 11.5 million records are a product of a year-long investigation by the ICIJ, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and over 100 news organisations.

    Nigeria’s whistle-blowing online newspaper, Premium Times, which works closely with ICIJ, has already named the family of Senate President Bukola Saraki among those reported to have hidden assets in tax havens.

    Saraki is currently facing trial for allegedly failing to make full disclosure of his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

    There are indications that many notable Nigerians may be named in the leaked records as they are known for operating secret accounts all over the world to hide their wealth.

    Several of such secret accounts holding billions of dollars have been traced to former military ruler, Sani Abacha (pictured), who died in 1998.

    But there have been unconfirmed reports over the years that it is a common practice among several of the country’s politicians, public officials, business moguls and companies.

    The documents so far made public are causing ripples across the world, with prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia already named.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s associates are said to have “secretly shuffled” about $2 billion through banks and shadow companies.

    But ICIJ says it will release the full list of companies and people linked to them in early May — when Nigerian officials are expected to be exposed as well.

    The body said the leaked data “covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015. It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues”.

    More than 200,000 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories are named in the leak.

    ICIJ’s analysis of the Mossack Fonseca files identified 61 family members and associates of prime ministers, presidents or kings in the secret dealings. (The Cable)

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