Politics

Pandora Papers: Why I am yet to receive EFCC’s invitation letter — Peter Obi

Former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi, has said he is yet to receive any letter of invitation from the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an investigative report “Pandora Papers” that alleged he was involved in a tax evasion fraud.

Recall NewsWireNGR had reported the ex-governor was reportedly summoned for questioning by the anti-graft agency.

Recating to the report, Peter Obi in a statement by his spokesman, Valentine Obienyem, titled ‘I have not made any statement on EFCC’s invitation – Obi’ said; “From what is circulating, the letter appears to have been sent to an office he is no longer part of and is yet to reach him.

“Obi being a law-abiding Nigerian will honour all legitimate invitations from government agencies at all times.”

NewsWireNGR had quoted a report by Premium Times that Obi discreetly set up a company called Gabriella Investments Limited, in the British Virgin Island.

He named the company Gabriella Investments Limited, after his daughter Gabriella Nwamaka.

Obi, the online newspaper reports, first approached Acces International, a secrecy enabler in Monaco, France, to help him incorporate an offshore entity in one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

Acces International then contracted a local registered agent – Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (Alcogal) — to set up Gabriella Investments Limited for Obi.

Gabriella Investment Limited was born on November 17, 2010.

On the same day the company was incorporated, the nominee directors met and issued 50,000 shares of Gabriella Investment in favour of Hill International Holding Corporation, a shell International Business Company operating under the laws of Belize, another tax haven.

The director of the company is Mr. Van Vuuren, who is also one of the directors of Gabriella Investment.

Gabriella Investment is now known as PMGG Investments Limited in what is a combination of the first letters of the first names of Obi’s nuclear family: P for Peter (ex-governor), M for Margaret (the ex-governor’s wife), G for Gabriella (the ex-governor’s daughter) and G for Gregory (the ex-governor’s son).

Obi has also created a trust known as The Gabriella Settlement, an entity also registered in the BVI.

The Gabriella Settlement is the sole shareholder of PMGG Investments.

Obi also incorporated another company called Next International (UK) Limited on May 16, 1996, in London.

Investigations show that Obi continued to act as director of Next International (UK) Limited for 14 months after becoming Governor of Anambra State, thereby breaking Nigeria’s laws.

In Nigeria, a person is statutorily obligated to withdraw from engaging in or directing a private business, upon becoming a public officer, as stipulated in Section Six (6) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

Obi resigned from Next International on May 16, 2008, 14 months after he assumed duties as Anambra Governor.

Obi also contravened Section 11 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which stipulates that public officers are required to declare “immediately after taking office and thereafter all” their properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his (or her) unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.

Investigations have revealed that Obi did not declare the companies he tucked away in offshore secrecy havens to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Asked about his offshore assets and shell companies, Obi told Premium Times that: “I am sure you too will not like to pay inheritance tax if you can avoid it.”

Obi disputing the investigative report said the report doesn’t reflect international investment practices.

“On the allegation that I violated the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, as well as sections of the 5th Schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), by not declaring any alleged assets in companies registered outside the Nigerian Federation, I think that the authors displayed ignorance on matters of trust and international investment practices,” he said.

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