Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi says the accusations against him from premium Times’ Pandora Papers publication are false, stating that he does not own $500 million and has never evaded taxes.
The former Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2019 Presidential elections, disclosed this in an interview with Arise News, monitored by THEWILL on Monday.
He also declared that his offshore trusts were strictly for savings and support borrowings to invest in Nigeria.
“Number 1 is I am not guilty, Trust company is a legitimate vehicle used everywhere globally”, he said.
He stated that his trust was never used to buy property before and after his time in office, adding that it is “strictly a trust company for savings and family planning, used to support our borrowings which we invested in this country, and these are the facts.”
He added that he does not own half a billion dollars, citing that Nigerians usually find it difficult to understand the value of money.
“Globally world population is over 7 billion, out of which, only 37.5 million are worth one million dollars, only 3 million people are worth 10 million dollars and only 300 thousand people are worth $25 million (.004%)”, he added.
On his company, Next International, he said it is a UK based company that represents multinationals in West Africa.
“I was CEO, I was living in the UK operating in Nigeria, and was declared winner of an election on Thursday 16th March 2006. On that day, I was presiding over the Fidelity bank board meeting as Chairman, Bismarck Rewane as a board member”, he said, explaining that the meeting stopped when he was told he had been elected governor of Anambra state.
“After I got my certificate of return, I was told I needed to proceed to Awka, because the then governor, Ngige left the country, and there was no government. The next morning I arrived at Awka, and was quickly sworn in.
“I had to phone my wife to take charge, I won’t come to London, and I was chairman of 11 companies, even in Nigeria, I phoned all of them to drop my resignation, I never left Awka till I was impeached. I did the needful correctly, on form declaration”, he added.
He disclosed that he declared things that belong to him, not to the company because the company had debt obligations.
“I cannot declare things that don’t belong to me. I cannot evade tax, every investment done globally is legitimate and pays tax. If I earn anything in the UK, I pay their taxes, I cannot pay property tax in Nigeria for property in the UK.
“I have never paid less than N50 million in taxes annually over the years, I did not break the law, everything I did is within the line, notwithstanding, there was never a time anybody said to me, they can’t find anything against me, because I have been going about preaching about saving”, he said.
On how he made his money, Obi says: “I had a brand and marketing management company that I ran. I was the sole importer of Heinz salad cream, baked beans, among others. I was sole engineer at South African breweries. I was bringing in Ovaltine.
“The company I was involved with before I left and my brother took it over and paid me off, became Cash and Carry.
“I was a trader, a very big trader. I used to import wine. I had a viable business and went into banking. I was sitting on the board of 3 banks before I became governor. I have major shares in those banks”, Obi adds.
According to Obi, the report is the handiwork of people who want to throw mud at him, hoping it sticks.
On Buhari’s borrowing, Obi stated that a country cannot spend its way out of recession, as it will have to cut costs.
“If you must borrow when in recession, you need to put the money into critical areas”, he advised.
THEWILL had reported that a collaboration of more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries produced a series of indicting investigative reports detailing how hundreds of wealthy elites worldwide engage in tax evasion, using tax and secrecy havens to clandestinely acquire properties and assets unknown to the regulatory authorities in their respective countries.
An investigative report by Premium Times also named a former governor of Anambra State and Vice-Presidential candidate at Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, Peter Obi, as one of the Nigerians listed in the Pandora Papers.
According to Premium Times, Mr Obi secretly set up and operated businesses abroad in tax and secrecy havens; and breached Nigerian laws while he was a serving governor by failing to declare these assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog set up to checkmate the abuse of office by public servants. (The Will)