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Senate President Bukola Saraki has refuted claims that he violated any law or tried to hide any asset in registering a company, Tenia Nigeria Limited.

While calling on Nigerians to disregard the Paradise papers story, Saraki, in a statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu, his Media Adviser said, “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.

“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.

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“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”, the statement noted.

It would be recalled that Saraki’s name on Sunday popped up in the global list of infamy exposing some leading world politicians for utilising shell companies in tax havens to either conceal assets, evade tax, or launder funds.

In the new findings by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Saraki was alleged to sit on the board of an offshore entity while he was governor and later member of the Senate in violation of the country’s code of conduct law.

The consortium said Saraki set up Tenia Limited in the Cayman Islands —a notorious tax haven in the Caribbean— in 2001, and ran it until at least 2015 as director and sole shareholder.

The consortium said he failed to list the firm in his assets declaration filings when he was elected governor of Kwara in 2003, in defiance of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. It also said he didn’t list the company when he was reelected governor in 2007 and when he was elected senator in 2011.

The latest details emerged from a leaked data obtained by German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and ICIJ from two offshore secrecy providers (Appleby and Asiaciti Trust) and 19 secrecy jurisdictions.

The leaked 1.4 terabyte data, now infamously dubbed Paradise Papers, contains 13.4 million records and is no doubt one of the biggest leaks in history.

SOURCE: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER

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