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PANDORA PAPERS: Ex-Minister, Oduah, named in illegal property acquisition, money laundering

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Nigerian govt drags Senators Oduah, Uzodinma to court over failure to declare assets

The Pandora Papers continue to unravel lots of alleged shady financial misconducts as a former Minister and serving Senator, Stella Oduah has been accused of siphoning funds via the purchase of high-end properties in the United Kingdom.

This was alleged in a report published by Premium Times on Wednesday in collaboration with UK-based Finance Uncovered within the larger Pandora Papers Investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ.

The report claimed that Sen Oduah acquired four London properties worth a total of £6.7 million between October 2012 and August 2013. “At today’s naira value, that amounts to approximately N5 2 billion at the black market rate of N775 to a pound sterling. If the official Central Bank of Nigeria rate of N558 to a pound sterling is used, the amount would translate to approximately N3.74 billion”, it said.

The properties were reportedly paid for in cash.

According to the Pandora Papers report, “between 2011 and 2014 when she was accused of corruption and sacked from the federal cabinet, Stella Oduah, now a senator, secretly acquired four London properties, hiding behind an anonymous company she tucked away offshore and possibly committing a breach of Nigeria’s public service code of conduct law”.

Read also: PANDORA PAPERS: Reports claim Kebbi gov, Bagudu, once spent time in US prison

It was further alleged that the lawmaker “circumvented due diligence checks in the UK about the sources of her funds as a politically exposed person. Also, anonymity, that is, hiding behind her secret Seychelles-incorporated company, meant she could avoid possible investigation and prosecution in Nigeria for owning undeclared assets or acquiring as a public servant any assets not attributable to legitimate income.”

Oduah has been reported to have incorporated “International Trading and Logistics Company Limited, ITCL, in Seychelles, a commonly used secrecy and tax haven,” for her activities.

The team of investigators detailed how Oduah was approached for clarification on the issue but “she failed to explain her acquisition of the properties and provide evidence that she declared them in her Code of Conduct fillings, in accordance with the law.

“She also declined to provide clarity on why she continued to run her offshore company as a director while a public office holder in Nigeria, in violation of the law.”

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