Pandora Papers have uncovered a secret offshore deal between a Nigerian multi-billionaire businessman, Leno Adesanya and family members of Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser.
According to the report, sometime in 2013, Adesanya approached a secret seller in the British Virgin Islands, Trident Trust Company Limited, to help Dasuki’s family members to register a shell company, Hydropower Investments Limited.
It said during the 37 months that Dasuki lasted as NSA, Adesanya had at least two knotty multibillion-dollar issues to resolve with the Nigerian government which resulted in the payment of about $55.3m to him by Jonathan’s administration.
But Dasuki denied asking Adesanya to register the company for his children.
In the documentation submitted for the company’s incorporation, Adesanya indicated that Hydropower Investment was set up to own real estate and investment portfolios.
He indicated that the company would, on behalf of the Dasuki family, hold 1.5 million shares in Sino Africa (Nigeria) Limited, a 19-year old company that has him (Adesanya) and a certain Uche Nwokedi as directors.
Hydropower Investments, company documents also showed, will also hold for the Dasukis 10 million shares in Sunrise Power & Transmission (Nigeria) Co. Limited, a company that is locked in a long-drawn dispute with the Nigerian government over the Mambilla power project.
The legal dispute is stalling the key funding from the Chinese EXIM Bank to execute the Mambilla project, an ambitious electricity generation infrastructure considered key to tackling Nigeria’s long-standing power sector crisis.
The shell company, Hydropower Investments, was registered on November 14, 2013, with Adesanya and Abubakar Atiku Dasuki, a son of a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, as directors.
But while Adesanya serves as the face of the company and uses his Lagos home as the contact address for the offshore firm, he holds no single share.
The shareholders and ultimate beneficial owners of the company are Abubakar Atiku Dasuki, (17,000 shares), Hassan Sultan Dasuki (16,500 shares) and Asmau Iman Dasuki (16,500 shares).
Abubakar was 31 years old at the time the company was established while Hassan and Asmau were 18.
The three shareholders are children of former NSA Dasuki, one of the most powerful figures in Nigeria at the time the company was incorporated, and awarded a combined 11.5million shares in Adesanya’s companies – Sunrise and Sino Africa.
There is no evidence that Dasuki or his children paid for the shares. When the registration agent, Trident Trust Company, sought to know how the shareholders sourced the funds with which they planned to acquire the assets, Mr Adesanya simply provided a vague response, telling them the assets would be “carried interest through a loan to be arranged by the sponsor (Leno Adesanya) of the project.”
It remains unclear why Adesanya would provide a loan to buy several million shares from his own companies in favour of the children of one of the country’s most powerful political personalities at the time.
Adesanya, speaking through his representative, said he derived no favours from Dasuki and added that “the children wanted to start doing business and they were advised by me to set up an offshore company for discretionary purposes.”
Dasuki said, through a representative, he did not ask Adesanya to register the company for his children. He said businesspeople sometimes render unsolicited favours to government officials even without their knowledge.
He added that, moreover, his children were adults, who could make business decisions on their own.