Leaked documents from files belonging to Mossack Fonseca, a firm in Panama, have shown that former Senate President, David Mark, operates at least eight offshore shell companies while holding office in contravention of the Code of Conduct Act. He is the third Nigerian so far named in the leaked files, reportedly seen by Premium Times.
The others are a former Delta State governor James Ibori and Senate President Bukola Saraki. The document, according to Premium Times, showed that David Mark stood out among other notable Nigerians named in the files. The revelations are among the findings of an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organisations including Nigeria’s Premium Times.
They also provide details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials around the world. More than 11 million documents, known as the Panama Papers, were leaked by an unknown source at Mossack Fonseca, known to be one of the world’s most secretive companies.
The prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, submitted his resignation yesterday, according to his deputy, succumbing to political pressure two days after being linked to the documents to become the first prominent political casualty from the documents which have exposed the private financial dealings of many rich and powerful people.
The report on Monday exposed Bukola Saraki, the senate president, as failing to declare at least four assets belonging to his wife in secret offshore territories as required by Nigerian laws, but Saraki said in a statement that he declared his assets properly in accordance with the relevant legislation. The report said the documents showed that David Mark is one of Nigeria’s most extensive users of offshore shell companies, even when he held public offices.
The companies linked to Mark are: Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited, and Centenary Holdings Limited.
Mark’s estranged wife, Vikky Preye Mark, was also linked to secret offshore accounts. A Premium Times investigation showed that she operated an account with the Swiss branch of HSBC, but with details made largely secret. The report said it was not clear what nature of businesses Mark was conducting with the companies.
Operating private companies while holding a public office contravenes the Code of Conduct Law. Section 6(b) of the Code of Conduct Act prohibits full time public office holders from managing or running any private business.
The documents showed the involvement of wives of global leaders in the web. They include: Micaela Domecq Solis-Beaumon, the wife of the EU commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete; Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, the wife of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and Azerbaijan’s first lady Mehriban Aliyev, wife of president Ilham Aliyev. Others are Toyin Saraki, wife of Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki; Mamadie Touré, widow of Lansana Conté, the former dictator and president of Guinea; as well as Tatiana Navka, wife of Russian diplomat Dmitry Sergeyevich Peskov.
David Mark kept mute over the allegations. His spokesman, Paul Mumeh, ignored calls and did not respond to a text message sent to him by our correspondent.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, told our correspondent on the telephone yesterday that the Presidency would not precipitate to start reacting to “something like that”.
However, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said it welcome any scrutiny of public office holders, saying that was the only way Nigeria would be liberated. National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, said President Muhammadu Buhari was running a government that does not interfere with the responsibilities of any agency, both at home and abroad.
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in their reactions, called for decisive actions against anyone found wanting in the leak.
In separate interviews with Daily Trust last night, CDD Director Idayat Hassan, the Head, Research Policy and Advocacy of YIAGA Samson Itodo and Executive Director of CISLAC Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said the leak had confirmed credible Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) assertion that majority of Nigerian leaders were not worth leading Nigerians due to their atrocities. Hassan said the leak was the greatest in recent times as it dwarfed the Wikileaks, but called for caution, saying Nigerians should avoid jumping into conclusions.
Meanwhile, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) says it has beamed its search light into the leak. A source close to the chairman of the bureau who spoke on condition of anonymity told our correspondent yesterday on telephone that it was studying the report which will be transferred to its investigation and monitoring unit.