OCCRP links at least 20 UK-based properties to Tinubu, associates
According to a report by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s President-elect, and his associates own at least 20 properties in the UK, most of which were acquired during his tenure as Governor of Lagos State.
According to the OCCRP report, published in Premium Times, OCCRP’s partners in Nigeria, the governors Tinubu picked tended to be former directors of companies owned by Tinubu or his son. The former and serving governors mentioned in the report are Babatunde Fashola, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Adegboyega Oyetola.
Recently, Bloomberg reported that Tinubu’s son, Oluwaseyi, is the main shareholder of Aranda Overseas Corporation, an offshore company that purchased a controversial UK property worth US$10.8 million in 2017. At the time, Nigeria was attempting to seize the London home of a Nigerian oil dealer who was facing corruption charges at home and in the United States.
However, according to an investigation by the OCCRP, there are more than a dozen other properties with links to Tinubu, which were mostly acquired while he was serving as Governor of Lagos State from May 1999 to May 2007. Tinubu’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment, according to the report.
“If there are reasonable grounds to suspect these assets were bought with criminal funds, then they should be investigated,” said Steve Goodrich, head of research and investigations at Transparency International UK. “Owning a home via an offshore company has seldom made much sense except for securing secrecy,” he added.
Tinubu’s past is not entirely clean, as he was forced to forfeit $460,000 to the US government in 1993 as proceeds of narcotics trafficking, according to a ruling by a US District Court in Illinois. However, about a year later, Abeeb Holdings Limited, an offshore company registered in Gibraltar with Tinubu as the beneficial owner, purchased Flat 9 at 96-100 New Cavendish Street in London.
Tinubu’s connection to Abeeb Holdings Limited was revealed through the Register of Overseas Entities, a new measure designed by the UK to disclose the true owners of offshore firms that hold property in the country. In 2011, his son’s Aranda Overseas Corporation bought Flat 10A in the same building, and the lease agreement was signed by Tinubu’s associate, Oladipo Eludoyin, a director of Aranda Overseas Corporation.
Eludoyin is also the founding director of Aranda Resources Limited, a Nigerian registered company whose shares are owned by Aranda Overseas Corporation. OCCRP discovered that Eludoyin is the beneficial owner of 17 UK properties through three offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Eludoyin’s properties were purchased between 2004 and 2007 when Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State. The report also stated that he did not respond to a request for comment.
Tinubu was succeeded by Fashola, who previously served as his chief of staff. Fashola also had a hand in Aranda Resources Limited, signing and presenting the allotment of shares of the company to Nigeria’s corporate registry in December 2001. Fashola’s spokesperson also did not respond to requests for comment.
The report also stated that current Lagos governor, Sanwo-Olu, was a director in Aranda Resources Limited until 26 days before his first day in office as governor in May 2019. His spokesperson also did not respond to requests for comment.
Another director of Aranda Resources Limited and Aranda Overseas Corporation, Oyetola, was elected governor of Osun in 2018, and Tinubu was widely credited for his electoral success.