UK newspaper, the Guardian reports that over 170b pounds worth of British real estate is being held overseas. This came into the limelight due to the Panama Papers scandal which has roared into full force implicating prominent people world over.
Some of the people implicated are prominent Nigerians including James Ibori and Senate President, Bukola Saraki. The paper reports that Saraki owns a property in Belgravia in his own name.
The Panama Papers also reveal the £5.7m property next door to be owned by companies incorporated in the Seychelles and BVI, whose respective shareholders are Saraki’s wife and former special assistant. Saraki told the Guardian he had declared all his assets correctly and in accordance with Nigerian legislation.
Again, a £1.65m townhouse in Kensington and Chelsea is shown as belonging to a BVI company whose sole shareholder is Folorunsho Coker, the former head of the number plate production authority of the state of Lagos and currently business adviser to the governor of Lagos. Coker’s lawyer said he had multiple sources of income and had always declared his interest in Satori Holdings to the Nigerian authorities.
Offshore companies and trusts enables investors to keep assets hidden while potentially reducing capital gains and inheritance tax or stamp duty in a manner not available to ordinary homeowners.
Transparency campaigners have warned the secrecy of such arrangements can enable large sums of black money to be laundered through the property market. A senior National Crime Agency director warned last year that the capital’s housing market had been “skewed by laundered money”
Others revealed to own massive homes in the UK include Malam Gwandu Bello a former director of the Nigerian ports Authority (NPA) and the other, a former Governor of Bayelsa State.