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David Mark dragged into global secret assets storm



• Senate President linked to eight firms on Virgin Island

Facts & Figures

The eight firms associated with Mark:

•Sikera Overseas S.A •Colsan Enterprises Ltd •Goldwin Transworld Ltd
•Hartland Estates Ltd •Marlin Holdings Ltd •Medley Holdings Ltd
•Quetta Properties Ltd •Centenary Holdings Ltd

14312MP •The secret code for Mrs Vikky Preye Mark’s account at the Swiss branch of HSBC

£6m .The cash in four accounts —three at the Northern Bank, Isle of Man, and one at the Allied Irish Bank, Jersey – frozen in October 2000

Former Senate President David Mark has been associated with running eight offshore companies registered on the British Virgin Island.

His former wife is also listed as owning shell accounts.

Senator Mark (Benue South), who recently won re-election into the upper chamber for the fifth time, is the latest Nigerian to be named in the files belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The firm, reputed as one of the most secretive companies in the world, helped clients to register offshore entities, some of which are then used to launder money, evade tax and dodge sanctions.

Senate President Bukola Saraki’s wife, former Delta State Governor James Ibori, Saraki’s brother Laolu, his associates Obi Asika and Olufela Ibidapo, have also been named as running shell companies that are listed in what is known as the Panama Papers.

The global scandal claimed Iceland Prime Minister’s job yesterday following pressure from the citizens.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron, whose dad Ian was named, denied having anything to do with the Panama Papers. But the opposition Labour Party called for an independent inquiry.

The revelations are among the findings of a lengthy investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organisations.

The companies associated with Mark are: Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited and Centenary Holdings Limited.

In the documents, Mark is repeatedly marked as a politically exposed person. At a point, the former Senate President sent documents, across to Mosseca Fonseca to prove that he was clean.

The businesses Mark is conducting with the companies could not be ascertained.

Online newspaper Premium Times quoted a previous investigation it conducted as showing that Mark’s estranged wife, Vikky Preye Mark, was also exposed as an operator of secret offshore accounts.

Mrs. Mark operated an account with the Swiss branch of HSBC, but with details made largely secret.

Although she was known within the bank as the beneficial owner of the account, she was largely identified with a secret code – 14312MP.

Mrs. Mark opened the account on December 18, 1989 and closed it on July 12, 1991. About that time, her husband, then a top ranking army officer, had served as military administrator of Niger State and minister of Communications.

Court papers during a messy divorce with his wife suggested that some of Mark’s children schooled in Switzerland, but it is not clear whether it was during that period that Mrs. Mark operated the HSBC account.

The court papers also showed that the Marks operated foreign accounts elsewhere.

About six million pounds in four accounts – three at the Northern Bank, Isle of Man, and one at the Allied Irish Bank, Jersey – were frozen in October 2000 as a result of the ancillary relief sought by Victoria Mark in the couple’s divorce case.

If proven that he ran the accounts, the senator may have run foul of the law.

Part 1, Section 7 of the Code of Conduct law provides that “any public officer specified in the Second Schedule to this Act or any other persons as the President may, from time to time, by order prescribe, shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria”.

Section 23 of the Code of Conduct law stipulates punishment for violators as follows:

(1) Where the (Code of Conduct) Tribunal finds a public officer guilty of contravening any of the provisions of this Act, it shall impose upon that officer any of the punishments specified under subsection (2) of this section.

(2) The punishment which the Tribunal may impose shall include any of the following-

(a) vacation of office or any elective or nominated office, as the case may be; and

(b) disqualification from holding any public office (whether elective or not) for a period not exceeding ten years.

The former senate president could not be reached for comments yesterday.

Premium Times quoted his spokesman Paul Mumeh as saying: “I’m not sure about the accuracy of your claims. I need to consult him before commenting.”

Later last night, Mark’s spokesman Paul Mumeh said: “I’m not sure about the accuracy of your claims. We know where that may be coming from. It is political.

-Culled from Premium Times

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