Mohammed Bello Koko | PANDORA PAPERS: NPA chief, Bello-Koko, reportedly violates Nigeria's CCB rule in laundering accusations | The Paradise

PANDORA PAPERS: NPA chief, Bello-Koko, reportedly violates Nigeria’s CCB rule in laundering accusations

Mohammed Bello-Koko, the acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was amongst high-profile names implicated in the ongoing revelation by the Pandora Papers.

A report issued on Wednesday by Premium Times in collaboration with UK-based Finance reported this within the larger Pandora Papers Investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which alleged property laundering by the NPA Chief in a clash of interests.

The report noted that due to his position as a public office holder, Bello-Koko is “in violation of Nigeria’s 8_,4 of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Sections 5 and 6). The regulators in the British Virgin Islands also had his companies under watch for suspected money laundering.

“He is involved in offshore business, hiding behind two shell companies incorporated in a tax and secrecy haven to anonymously invest in the United Kingdom property market and potentially violating Nigeria’s public service code of conduct laws.”

Nonetheless, the Pandora Papers revealed that “Although shell companies have been a key feature in illicit financial flow and are used to facilitate drug deals and terrorism financing, owning one is not necessarily illegal and can be for legitimate purposes.”

Ripples Nigeria gathered that a shell company is a company or corporation that exists only on paper and has no office and no employees, but may have a bank account or may hold passive investments or be the registered owner of assets, such as intellectual property, or ships.

Read also: PANDORA PAPERS: Ex-Minister, Oduah, named in illegal property acquisition, money laundering

“In Mr Bello-Koko’s case, having the shell companies at the time he did as a private-sector worker was not, on the face of it, criminal under Nigerian law.

“Experts, however, say shell companies are frequently used to conceal assets and avoid or evade taxes. They are also used by players in corruption high-risk sectors such as banking, government contracting, petroleum, and real estate to facilitate the flow of dirty money, sometimes for shadowy political patrons,” the report explained.

In order to seek clarification, “Premium Times and Finance Uncovered sent Mr Bello-Koko a written request for comment. For weeks, he declined to explain his acquisition of the properties and provide evidence that he declared them in his Code of Conduct fillings, in accordance with the law.

“He also declined to provide clarity on why he remained director of the offshore company while a public office holder in Nigeria, in violation of the law.”

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