PANDORA PAPERS: Tinubu’s London house in tax-haven scandal, Diezani connected

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In the on-going ICIJ-led Pandora Papers, the searchlight has been beamed on APC National Leader Bola Tinubu and his business deals with associates in tax havens.

Nigeria-based PREMIUM TIMES is among over a hundred media houses across the world digging no the 12-million confidential files leaked, the biggest ever, according to the ICIJ.

Goboyega Oyetola, Osun governor and relative of Tinubu, has been outed as the owner of a shell company that bought a multimillion-pound building from Kola Aluko,  a Nigerian fugitive and associate of ex-Oil Minister Diezani Allison Madueke.

According to the report, the mansion is where Tinubu, who is currently in London, has been receiving top politicians and high-profile personalities.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had earlier secured a freezing order on the property from a Federal High Court before the previous owner, Aluko, flipped it cheap.

Oyetola bought the  6,975 sq ft property is situated at 32 Grove End Road, in the Westminster neighbourhood of London.

The estate boasts, according to the report, two buildings – a five-bedroom property with a formal reception, a study, a master bedroom with an en suite dressing room, bathroom and a cinema suite with a balcony overlooking the rear garden.

Two of the other four bedrooms in the property are en suite. The second building on the estate is a self-contained two-bedroom flat which is built above the property’s double length garage. The property has a gym, two guest cloakrooms, a carriage driveway that can park up to eight cars, and front and rear gardens, and an electric gate.

“Documents obtained from the UK property register revealed that in July 2013, the property with title number 340992, was bought for £11.95 million by Zavlil Holdings Ltd, a shell company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a notorious tax haven,” PREMIUM TIMES said.

“Documents revealed that Zavlil Holdings Limited is owned by Kolawole Aluko, an international fugitive wanted by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria and the United States for money laundering.

“Kola Aluko and his associate, Jide Omokore, were indicted in the U.S. and Nigeria for multi-million-dollar fraud and money laundering violations allegedly in collusion with a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

“In 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria filed a Mareva injunction at a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking to confiscate a list of properties belonging to Messrs Aluko and Omokore valued at $1.8 billion.

“A Mareva injunction is a Court order which freezes the assets of a defendant pending the outcome of a litigation.

“In the suit against Messrs Omokore and Aluko, alongside their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, the Nigerian Government asked the court to grant it seven orders to prevent the accused from disposing the assets. The government alleged they were acquired through fraudulent means.

“The court granted the government all its prayers. In October 2017, an attempt by the defendants to dismiss the Mareva injunction granted on the properties was subsequently dismissed by Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, the trial judge.”

The report said shortly after the court granted the order, Aluko sold the house for £9 million to Aranda Overseas Corporation, an offshore company incorporated in the British Virgins Island by Oyetola, formerly chair of Paragon Group of Companies, and Elusanmi Eludoyin, who succeeded Oyetola at Paragon.

“The huge discount at which the property was sold is curious and raised questions of whether Mr Aluko desperately needed to sell the property even while a court of law had placed a freeze order on it,” the report read.

Tinubu—or his spokesperson—has yet to make official response to inquiries and even the report.

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