The collaborative investigation of journalists has revealed two firms in tax havens and London properties belonging to the acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko.
The Pandora Papers, which involves11.9 million leaked confidential records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), showed that Bello-Koko is using the shell companies to invest in United Kingdom property market in violation of Nigeria’s public service laws, Premium Times reported.
It was gathered that Bello-Koko, with his wife, Agatha Anne Koko, engaged a financial secrecy seller, Cook Worldwide and Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), an offshore law firm, to secretly register Coulwood Limited (reg. number: 1487897) and Marney Limited (reg. number: 1487944) in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2008.
BVI is one of the world’s most commonly used tax havens known for establishing an offshore business. It has up-to-date company laws and regulations that have been specifically designed to attract offshore investors.
Findings showed that Bello-Koko remains a director of the two companies even as a public servant in violation of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Sections 5 and 6).
The regulators in the BVI also had his companies under watch for suspected money laundering, a problem Alcogal appeared to have helped him avoid with some misinformation provided to the regulators.
The two shell companies, Coulwood Limited and Marney Limited, were used by Bello-Koko to anonymously purchase five London properties, Pandora Papers, and public records from the UK Land Registry showed.
One of the properties was acquired in May 2017, an Aurora Garden property worth 475,000 pounds, after Mr Bello-Koko had taken office at the NPA. He was appointed executive director for finance and administration in 2016 and later acting MD in 2021.
The other four properties were acquired between 2009 and 2012, making Bello-Koko potentially exploit UK tax loopholes that allowed the owning of UK properties
Bello-Koko first used Marney Limited to acquire Flat 2, Liberty Court, 141, Great North Way, London NW4 1PR with an FBN UK mortgage, on October 20, 2009, and, then on July 23, 2012, 62, Manton Road, Enfield, London EN3 6XZ mortgage-free (with cash). Both properties cost 275,000 pounds and 280,000 pounds, respectively, when they were acquired.
Using the second company, Coulwood Limited, Mr Bello-Koko also bought three other London properties, namely 62 Corner Mead, Hendon, (NW9 5RD) on November 25, 2008; 37 Redlands Road, Enfield (EN3 5HN) on August 16, 2011; and 14, Faraday House, Aurora Gardens, London (SW11 8ED) on May 3, 2017.
He paid 205,000 pounds for the 2011 Enfield property, and 235,000 pounds for the 2008 Hendon property. which he sold, according to records, in May 2017 for 350,000 pounds.
Bello-Koko did not reply to written questions emailed to him weeks ahead of the publication by Premium Times.