- Law firm threatens legal action over leak of information
A day after retired Army general and ex-Senate President David Mark was named in the Panama Papers report, revealing that he has illegal offshore accounts, another retired Army general and former Defence Minister, Theophilus Danjuma, has been linked to offshore assets.
According to the report, Danjuma owns a company, Eastcoast Investment Inc, which he incorporated in Nassau, in the Bahamas, on March 25, 1997.
Also mentioned in the papers is Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss attorney hired by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to track missing General Sani Abacha loot in Swiss banks. Monfrini operates over 178 companies in offshore tax havens.
The mention of Danjuma’s name came just as Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the centre of the huge leak of confidential financial data, said it was a victim of hack and therefore considering legal action against those who released the information.
Danjuma was still in service as Chief of Army Staff at the time the company was incorporated. At inception, Danjuma and a certain Colin Marcel Dixon were directors of the company. He was also director of Zara Logistics, a company registered in Cyprus on September 2, 1993.
Reports said Danjuma formed the company to enable him to do business with Scancem International of Norway when the later decided to expand its involvement in Africa to include a project in Nigeria.
“But the company soon became embroiled in a messy bribery scandal, with Scancem, according to court papers, later buying out Eastcoast Investment from the project on December 1, 2003.
“It was later determined, “the money went mainly to another account Eastcoast Investment had, to General T.Y. Danjuma and a certain The Volta Company.” As the controversy raged, Danjuma resigned as director of the company, but no document was sighted indicating that he transferred his shareholding to anyone.
Continuing, the reports said a certain Satish Chander Dosaj, who later died, replaced Danjuma. On his death, Elizabeth Dixon, believed to be Dixon’s wife, was brought in as director. But even before incorporating Eastcoast to do business with Scancem, Danjuma had used several offshore entities in the past, mostly registered in tax havens.
The database, Opencorporates, indicate that Danjuma served as director and vice-president of Cross Group Holdings International, which was registered in Panama on October 15, 1976. He was also director of Zara Logistics, a company registered in Cyprus on September 2, 1993.
The retired general was also among global personalities found to maintain secret accounts, operated with codes, with the Swiss branch of banking giant, HSBC.
Meanwhile, a partner at Mossack Fonseca, Mr. Ramon Fonseca said the leak was not an “inside job,” as the company had been hacked by servers based abroad. It had filed a complaint with the Panamanian attorney general’s office, he revealed.
Several countries are investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11 million documents. “We are amazed that nobody has said: ‘Hey, a crime has been committed here,’” Fonseca, one of the firm’s founding partners, told Reuters news agency.
“The world is already accepting that privacy is not a human right,” he told AFP agency separately.
Last week the company reportedly sent an email to its clients saying it had suffered “an unauthorised breach of our email server.”
The company has accused media organisations reporting the leak of having “unauthorised access to proprietary documents and information taken from our company” and of presenting this information out of context.
In a letter to London The Guardian newspaper on Sunday, the company’s head of public relations threatened possible legal action over the use of “unlawfully obtained” information. The revelations have already sparked political reaction in several countries where high-profile figures have been implicated.