#PanamaPapers: Toyin Saraki’s Lawyers Counter Husband, Says Secret Assets Belong To Her Alone
The controversy over the real ownership of some secret assets linked to Toyin Saraki, wife of embattled President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has taken a new twist.
Saraki had said on Tuesday in response to a Premium Times report that the properties in question belongs to the family of his wife, insisting that he fully complied with law on asset declaration.
At least four assets belonging to the wealthy and famous Saraki family of Nigeria, all tucked away in secret offshore territories, were uncovered by the investigation
Saraki, in his response on Tuesday said: “The property in question forms part of Dr Saraki’s wife’s family asset,” Mr. Saraki said. “It is public knowledge that Mrs. Saraki comes from a family of independent means and wealth with numerous and varied assets acquired over decades in family estates and investments
“Furthermore, the law only requires a public officer to declare both his own assets and those held by his spouse and his children under 18 years of age. The law does not require a public officer to declare assets held by the spouse’s family.
“It is not expected by the law that a public officer should declare such assets held in the spouse’s family estate. Indeed, the Code of Conduct form does not make provision for declaration of spouse’s family assets,” he stated.
But in a sharp disagreement with the Senate President, Premium Times report that lawyers to Toyin Saraki said on Wednesday that the controversial hidden assets the politician failed to disclose, tucked away in secret offshore tax havens, belong solely to Mrs. Saraki, and not her family estate.
The London-based law firm of Harbottle & Lewis, who are lawyers to Mrs. Saraki, in clarifying the legal position of the controversial assets, said its client solely own them.
“Our client is the sole shareholder in Sandon Development Limited. There are not and have never been any other shareholders in Sandon Developments Limited,” Harbottle & Lewis stated in a response to enquiries by the ICIJ in a letter dated March 19, 2016.
Similarly, the law firm also confirmed that Mrs. Saraki was the “sole shareholder of Landfield International Developments Limited from incorporation until January 2015,” when she sold her shares to a third party.
Aside the clarification by Toyin Saraki’s lawyers, one document according to Premium Times said Mrs. Saraki insisted she was the sole director of Girol Properties Limited.
In the document, entitled, “Memorandum of the Sole Director of Girol Properties Limited”, Mrs Saraki wrote on August 25, 2004, “In accordance with the Articles of Association of the Company, I, the undersigned, Mrs. Toyin SARAKI, being its sole director, do hereby set down the following on record:
REGISTERED OFFICE: It was con?rmed that the registered of?ce of the Company be situated at Akara Bldg, 24 De Castro Street, Wickhams Cay I, Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.
SEAL: It was resolved that the Common Seal produced to the Meeting (an impression of which is af?xed below) be and it is hereby adopted as the
Common Seal of the Company.
CORPORATE DOCUMENTS: It was resolved that the books, records and minutes of the Company may be kept anywhere in the world.
SHARES: It was resolved that the Company be and hereby is authorised to issue, for value received, share certi?cates No. l and 2, in the name of Mrs. Toyin SARAKI, for 25000 shares with a par value of US$ 1,00 each
Adopted and signed this 25m day of August, 2004.
The hidden properties, Girol Properties Limited, Sandon Development Limited and Landfield International Developments Limited, which the Senate President failed to declare, were acquired between 2004 and 2011.
Documents showed that Sandon Development Limited was registered in Seychelles Island on January 12, 2011, with Mrs. Saraki and one Babatunde Morakinyo, (her husband’s long-term personal aide and friend) as shareholders.
The documents also showed that Landfield International Developments Limited, with registration number 1819394, was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on April 8, 2014, with its registered office address as #1 Akara Blog., 24 De Castro Street, Wickhams Cay 1, Road Town, Tortola.
Until January 27, 2015, when Mrs. Saraki sold her shares in the company, Landfield Limited had her as sole shareholder, although with some nominee directors she hired from Mossac Fonseca to ostensibly conceal her ownership of the shell company.