Saraki says he has no property to hide.
The Senate President stated this while reacting to reports by the AFP which named him among world leaders who used shell companies in tax heavens to either conceal assets, evade tax or launder funds.
The files that were leaked on Sunday, November 5, 2017, already dubbed Paradise Papers, contain 13.4 million documents mainly from Appleby, an offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.
Saraki was found to have sat on the board of Tenia Limited, an offshore company located in the Cayman Islands that he set up and ran as director and sole shareholder from 2001 until at least 2015, a duration that spanned his tenure as Kwara State governor and member of the upper legislative chamber.
This act is a violation of Nigeria's code of conduct law as he failed to list it in his assets declaration filings when he was elected governor as well as member of the Senate in the stated period.
But, in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said the company was incorporated in 2001, before he ventured into politics.
The Senate President noted that the company had remained dormant, held no assets and he was not a signatory to the company’s account.
The statement reads:
“Once again, the issue of offshore company registration which was first raised in 2016 is being revived and thrown to the public space. As a responsible public officer, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, will continue to explain his position. We know this is the period of politics when mudslinging is a common trick in the game.
“However, we will like to make it known that Dr. Saraki violated no law and did nothing illegal in the course of registering the company under reference, Tenia Limited, and afterwards.
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“As we had earlier explained when the issue was first brought into public view, the company in question, Tenia Limited, was incorporated in 2001, long before Dr. Saraki ventured into politics and was elected into public office.
“The company from incorporation to date had never been used for any transaction. It held no asset. It had no bank account to the best of the knowledge of Dr. Saraki. Even if it did, the Senate President was not a signatory to such account. This is just a paper company and therefore could not have been used to hide any asset.
“The company, unlike the other ones investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), had been a dormant entity from creation such that when in late 2015, its existence was raised with the Senate President, he could not readily recollect that there was such a company linked to him. He then immediately directed that the company be struck off.
“For the umpteenth time, we will reiterate the fact that the Senate President has fully complied with the law on assets declaration, even as it concerns the company under reference.
“We call on all members of the public to disregard the claims and insinuations suggesting that the company in question was incorporated to perpetrate any illegality or that its existence violates any law.”
Saraki was also named in the tax-evasion scandal of the infamous Panama Papers involving 11.5 million documents leaked in April 2016.