Pandora Papers: ‘I’m Not Guilty’, Says Peter Obi As He Explains Source Of Wealth
Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi says the accusations against him from Pandora Papers’ report about him owning assets in secret havens to evade taxes are false, adding that he does not own $500 million.
The former Vice Presidential candidate for PDP disclosed this in an interview with Arise News on Monday morning.
The development comes amid allegations from a report named ‘Pandora Papers’ by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which PremiumTimes is a part of.
A collaboration of more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries produced a series of indicting investigative reports detailing how hundreds of wealthy elites worldwide engage in tax evasion, using tax and secrecy havens to clandestinely acquire properties and assets unknown to the regulatory authorities in their respective countries.
According to Premium Times, Obi secretly set up and operated businesses abroad in tax and secrecy havens; and breached Nigerian laws while he was a serving governor by failing to declare these assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog set up to checkmate the abuse of office by public servants.
The former governor admitted that he did not declare these companies and the funds and properties they hold in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The report says Obi also stated that he was unaware that the law expected him to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else.
Speaking about the viral claim, Obi declared that his offshore trusts were strictly for savings and support borrowings to invest in Nigeria.
Number 1 is I am not guilty, Trust company is a legitimate vehicle used everywhere globally.
The former governor stated that his trust was never used to buy property before and after his time in office, adding that it is “strictly a trust company for savings and family planning, used to support our borrowings which we invested in this country, and these are the facts.”
He added that he does not own half a billion dollars, citing that Nigerians usually find it difficult to understand the value of money.
Globally world population is over 7 billion, out of which, only 37.5 million are worth one million dollars, only 3 million people are worth 10 million dollars and only 300 thousand people are worth $25 million (.004%).
On his company, Next International, he said it is a UK based company, that represents multinationals in West Africa.
I was CEO, I was living in the UK operating in Nigeria, and declared winner of an election on Thursday 16th March 2006. On that day, I was presiding Fidelity bank board meeting as Chairman, Bismarck Rewane as a board member,” he said, explaining that the meeting stopped when he was told he had been elected governor of Anambra state.
After I got my certificate of return, I was told I needed to proceed to Awka, because the then governor, Ngige left the country, and there was no government. The next morning I arrived Awka, and was quickly sworn in.
Obi further stated;
I had to phone my wife to take charge, I won’t come to London, and I was chairman of 11 companies, even in Nigeria, I phoned all of them to drop my resignation, I never left Awka till I was impeached. I did the needful correctly, on form declaration.
He revealed that he declared things that belong to him, not to the company because the company had debt obligations.
I cannot declare things that don’t belong to me. I cannot evade tax, every investment done globally is legitimate and pays tax. If I earn anything in the UK, I pay their taxes, I cannot pay property tax in Nigeria for property in the UK.
I have never paid less than N50 million in taxes annually over the years, I did not break the law, everything I did is within the line, notwithstanding, there was never a time anybody said to me, they can’t find anything against me, because I have been going about preaching about saving.