Panama Papers: Does Africa’s Richest Man Pay His Fair Share Of Tax To Nigeria?

Written by Kevin Mwanza

The recent massive leak of millions of confidential documents from Panama-based law global law firm Mossack Fonseca has opened question to whether Africa’s richest man has been paying all his taxes in his home country, Nigeria.

Aliko Dangote, founder and chairman of Dangote Group, who is worth about $17.3 billion according to Forbes rich list, is listed together with his relatives in the ongoing Panama papers leak.

According to documents from the Panama leak, Dangote, his half-brother, Sayyu Dantata, as well as his business allies have over the years used shell companies domiciled in controversial tax havens in their business transactions, Nigerian Bulletin reported.

While the leak does not say if the shell companies associated with Dangote and associates were used for illegal dealing, they have raised questions if the prominent businessman and industrialist has been paying his fair share of tax in Nigeria.

In statement sent to Nigerian newsrooms, the richest man in Africa, denied having any dealings with Mossack Fonseca.

“I wish to state categorically that neither Aliko Dangote nor Dangote Industries Ltd. has any form of relationship with these alleged four offshore companies,” quoted Dangote Group spokesperson, Tony Chiejina, saying in the statement.

“The group has four quoted companies on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and we cannot afford to tarnish our reputation or conduct our business in an unethical manner given this profile.”

Companies linked to the tycoon in the leaked documents include Paseo Trading Limited, Seychelles; Petrowest S.A., Seychelles; SID Holdings Corp, Panama; and Chalmers Shipping Inc, Panama.

Despite issuing a denial, the alleged link to this companies is likely to raise questions for Dangote, whose group in currently engaged in multi-billion dollar projects across Africa with partners such as U.S.-based private equity firm Blackstone and the Chinese government.

Several other prominent Nigerians are also mentioned in the Panama papers including Folorunsho Coker, the former head of the number plate production authority of the state of Lagos and currently business adviser to the governor of Lagos; former Nigerian Ports Authority director Mallam Bello Gwandu; and Theiphilus Danjuma, a retired army general and former defence minister.