Bishop David Oyedepo, founder and general overseer of Living Faith Church Worldwide, commonly known as Winners’ Chapel International, has been added to a list of Nigerians who have established offshore corporations in the British Virgin Islands.
According to Premium Times, Oyedepo’s name surfaced in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Pandora Papers investigative effort (ICIJ).
Former Anambra State Governor and Peoples Democratic Party Vice Presidential Candidate Peter Obi, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, and Osun State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode are among the other notable Nigerians implicated in the tax haven controversy.
According to the report, Oyedepo hired Business Centrum Limited, a London-based agency, in August 2007 to assist him in establishing a business in the notorious tax haven for himself and his close family members.
“Subsequently, Business Centrum engaged with Trident Trust Group, one of the world’s top secrecy enablers and a well-known supplier of offshore corporate and financial services.
“Zadok Investments Limited was incorporated on August 20, 2007 with 50,000 ordinary shares of $1.00 each.
“While Mr. Oyedepo and his two sons, David (junior) and Isaac, serve as directors of the business, every member of Mr. Oyedepo’s family is registered as a stakeholder.
“With a 30% stake in the company, Mr. Oyedepo and his wife, Faith, are the biggest shareholders.
“Among his children are David (junior), who was named resident pastor of the church’s headquarters, known as Faith Tabernacle, in 2016, and Isaac, who is the resident pastor of the church’s branch in Maryland, United States of America.
“Love and Joy,” the cleric’s two daughters, were similarly allotted 10% shares each.
“The papers did not disclose the specific activities and transactions for which the offshore corporation was formed. The company, on the other hand, seems to be the family’s investment vehicle for the purpose of storing family money for offshore administration,” the study said in part.
According to Shauntv, the Pandora documents are the third in a series in which foreign media stories on the purchase of offshore properties have included senior Nigerian governmental figures.
The Panama and Paradise Papers revelations followed a similar trend, in that Nigeria’s rich and powerful individuals in political, economic, and religious circles were ‘exposed’ for their use of offshore secrecy vehicles, not only to siphon money but also to avoid paying taxes.