Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is the third governor of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) exposed by Pandora Papers, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Two others – Governors Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) – had earlier been exposed by documents from the investigative project, which PREMIUM TIMES is a part of.
In a report, PREMIUM TIMES said documents showed that Abiodun is the director of at least two offshore companies while also operating a foreign account.
The companies are reportedly incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
“We were also able to determine that he failed to declare the companies and whatever assets they hold in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“The leaked files were retrieved from some offshore services firms around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore entities for clients, many of them influential politicians, businesspersons and criminals, ostensibly in desperate moves to conceal their financial dealings.
“The two-year collaboration has so far revealed the financial secrets of not less than 40 current and former world leaders, and more than 330 public officials in more than 91 countries.
“The documents reviewed by this newspaper showed that Mr Abiodun is the sole director and beneficial owner of Marlowes Trading Corporation, a company operating under the laws of the British Virgin Island.
“The governor equally owns and failed to declare Heyden Petroleum Limited, another BVI company registered offshore.”
While deciding to set up an offshore structure in a tax haven, Abiodun reportedly hired Dubai-based SFM Corporate Services for advice and execution.
SFM Corporate Services is said to specialise in trust and offshore company formation services, offshore bank account opening and related services.
“It was SFM Corporate Services that in turn hired Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (alcogal), a Panamanian secrecy seller, to incorporate Marlowes Trading Corporation for Mr Abiodun,” PREMIUM TIMES report read.
“After some back and forth between SFM and Alcogal, the offshore company was incorporated in the British Virgin Island on January 12, 2015.
“Mr Abiodun was then appointed sole director and shareholder of the company. The businessman was also issued a share certificate number one.
“In March 2015, on the completion of the registration of the company, Alcogal sent copies of the new entity’s documents to SFM Corporate services in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.”
Heyden in Nigeria, Heyden in tax haven
Apart from Marlowes, documents also show that Abiodun also owns Heyden Petroleum Limited, which shares the name with a Nigerian company he also owns.
He established the Nigerian version of Heyden in 2001.
Details of a letter dated March 21, 2016, showed that the governor is the sole beneficial owner of Heyden BVI.
However, in the letter, addressed to SFM Corporate Services, Abiodun notified the firm of his decision to grant one Okechukwu Chikezie Nzelum the authority to “handle exclusively all administrative requests with regard to the Company.”
The governor noted, however, that the said Chikeziem “is not authorised to engage the company commercially.”
PREMIUM TIMES said Abiodun refused to respond to messages and emails sent to his numerous emails and phone numbers, seeking his reaction to the issue.
Messages sent to his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, were also not replied to, according to the newspaper.