The anti-corruption NGO Transparency International has published a list of five properties that the UK authorities should investigate under a new law that came into force last month. Naijiant.com has reproduced the section of the list that deals with Senate President Bukola Saraki’s houses in London.
Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) came into force on 31 January 2018 in the United Kingdom. They are a new investigative power designed to help law enforcement act on corrupt assets. This is something that Transparency International has been advocating for since 2014.
For more on what UWOs are and how they work in practice, see our brief guide here.
They are particularly useful where there is no realistic prospect of cooperation or conviction in the country of origin, but there are sufficient grounds for suspicion that an asset has been acquired with the proceeds of corruption. Based on open source information, we have pulled together five cases where we believe law enforcement should consider using UWOs in forming a case for civil recovery proceedings against potentially illicit wealth.
7 and 8 Whittaker Street, Belgravia, London
Suspected owner: Bukola Saraki, President Nigerian Senate
Price: £9 million and £6 million
Land Registry documents show that these two addresses are owned by Landfield International Developments Limited and Renocon Property Development Limited. Based on current market estimates by Zoopla, the properties are worth a combined total of around £15 million. According to data released as part of the Panama Papers, these companies were controlled by Toyin Saraki, the wife of the President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki as well as one of his personal aides. At the time of these revelations, none of these offshore holdings were reported in Saraki’s official asset declarations.
Previous public disclosures by Saraki have indicated he has high levels of unexplained wealth. In 2003, his asset declaration showed he had amassed tens of millions of pounds worth of assets during his time as director of Société Générale Bank and Special Assistant to the President on Budget. The explanation he provided for these acquisitions was stated simply as “business”. Saraki is involved in an ongoing court case around allegations of false asset declarations from his tenure as Governor of Kwara state.
When asked by The Guardian about these properties, Saraki stated said he had declared all his assets correctly and in accordance with Nigerian legislation.