Saraki named as ‘Paradise Papers’ expose global elite

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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Monday unveiled a cache on the globe elite and their alleged involvement in tax evasion through offshore tax entities in documents known as the Paradise Papers’.

Among those listed in the Paradise Papers’ are world leaders, potentates, top politicians and businessmen.

They include British monarch, Queen Elizabeth ii; Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; and some of the key figures in the administration of United States President, Donald Trump.

The investigation covers two offshore firms, 19 secrecy jurisdictions and 13.4 million files.

It also exposes the offshore firms linked to the 40 politicians and their immediate relatives.

ICIJ on its website summarises the Paradise Papers’ thus: “A new leak of confidential records reveals the financial hideaways of iconic brands and power brokers across the political spectrum.”

  • “Trump told voters he would put “America First.” But surrounding him are associates who have used tax havens to conduct businesses.”

“The Paradise Papers is a global investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 95 media partners explored 13.4 million leaked files from a combination of offshore service providers and the company registries of some of the world’s most secretive countries.

The files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Offshore

The Paradise Papers documents include nearly 7 million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork from nearly 50 years at Appleby, a leading offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.

The documents also include files from a smaller, family-owned trust company, Asiaciti, and from company registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions. The records range from complex, 100-page corporate transaction sheets and dollar-by-dollar payment ledgers to simple corporate registries of countries, such as Antigua & Barbuda, that do not publicly list names of company shareholders or directors.

As a whole, the Paradise Papers files expose offshore holdings of political leaders and their financiers as well as household-name companies that slash taxes through transactions conducted in secret. Financial deals of billionaires and celebrities are also revealed in the documents.

The Paradise Papers files include far more information about U.S. citizens, residents and companies than previous ICIJ investigations – at least 31,000 of them.

ICIJ collaborated with more than 380 journalists working on six continents in 30 languages. Many team members spent a year using online platforms to communicate and to share documents. Journalists tracked down court records, obtained financial disclosures of politicians in Africa, Europe, and Latin and North America, filed freedom of information requests and conducted hundreds of interviews with tax experts, policymakers and industry insiders.”

  • Reveals offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II, and 13 advisers, major donors and members of U.S. President Donald J. Trump
  • Exposes the tax engineering of more than 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, Nike and Botox-maker Allergan
  • Reveals tax haven shopping sprees by multinational companies in Africa and Asia that use shell companies in Mauritius and Singapore to reduce taxes
  • Shines a light on secretive deals and hidden companies connected to Glencore, the world’s largest commodity trader, and provides detailed accounts of the company’s negotiations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for valuable mineral resources
  • Provides details of how owners of jets and yachts, including royalty and sports stars, used Isle of Man tax-avoidance structures

Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was listed in the Paradise Papers’ for alleged links to an offshore entity registered in South America.

He was listed in the Paradise Papers’ as a “director and a shareholder of Tenia Ltd., a company established in the Cayman Islands in April 2001. Appleby’s records describe Tenia Ltd. as a “holding company.”
It stated that in August 2013, Appleby had recorded his company as “low” risk and listed the company’s address as 30 Saka Tinubu Street on Victoria Island in Lagos, which his lawyers said was rented by him.
“In 2016, Nigerian officials obtained a search warrant on the property, as part of an investigation examining alleged false declaration of assets, according to local media. In June 2017, a tribunal in Nigeria dismissed charges against him of having falsely declared assets, but Nigeria’s federal government vowed to appeal. Tenia Ltd was listed as active as of 2015,” the documents said.
Responding to the investigators, his lawyers reportedly said: “There is nothing unlawful in the ownership of offshore companies.”
They said Tenia Ltd. was incorporated in 2001 but has “never held assets nor conducted business.”
The Paradise Papers’ quotes his lawyers as having told ICIJ that he rented the property given as Tenia Ltd.’s address in Lagos.
“They also said that he believes the case against him is politically motivated and he is confident that the appeal will be dismissed.”

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