Pandora Papers: Into the Crime Infested Life of Diezani’s Ally Walter Wagbatsoma
In the early hours of Wednesday January 17, 2018, Nigerian businessman Walter Wagbatsoma was jailed and disqualified as a business manager for six years in the UK.
Prior to his conviction Mr Wagbatsoma had been locked up for three years and six months for his role in an international conspiracy which defrauded more than £ 13million from public services, including Lincolnshire’s NHS Trust for Mental Health.
Earlier in June 2016, while traveling in Germany, he was detained under a European arrest warrant, then extradited and charged with conspiring with others to launder the proceeds of fraud by the through its business interests in the UK.
Leicester court said Mr Wagbatsoma had personally benefited to the tune of £ 480,000 from four fraud schemes, which saw him and his co-conspirators calling hospitals, councils, schools and associations housing pretending to be the owners of a legitimate construction company that owed money. by organizations.
The conspirators then claimed their bank details had changed and asked the organizations to put the money into another account instead. The money was then moved across multiple accounts in an attempt to make it untraceable.
Tagged Operation Tarlac, Lincolnshire Police’s four-year investigation into the fraud ring began in 2011 after the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust was defrauded of £ 1.28million.
At the time Mr Wagbatsoma was sentenced in the UK, he was facing a separate trial in Nigeria for fuel subsidy fraud.
Information about the businessman’s numerous run-ins with the law came from Pandora Papers, the landmark investigation into the vast amount of previously hidden offshore files of the super-rich and powerful, coordinated by the International Consortium of Journalists of investigation, HERE.
The leaked documents came from 14 offshore service companies around the world who have set up shell companies and other offshore nooks and crannies for clients like Mr. Wagbatsoma, who seek to conceal their financial activities.
The investigation, which is the largest investigative journalist collaboration in history, involved 151 media outlets and more than 600 journalists from 117 countries who sifted through nearly 12 million leaked documents, searched for sources and examined other public documents.
The Man, Walter Wagbatsoma
Named Walter Omagbitse Wagbatsoma, the businessman and oil trader was at one time an ally of the most influential Nigerian oil minister in recent history, arguably. Diezani Alison Madueke.
Ms Alison-Madueke, who reportedly moved to the UK after leaving public office in Nigeria, headed the Oil Ministry which oversaw the opaque Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) between 2010 and 2015.
She served under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and has been named in a number of corruption cases since leaving office.
His name has appeared either as the principal accused or as an accomplice in certain cases filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to his Linkedin account, Mr. Wagbatsoma earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and obtained a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Lagos.
He worked as a member of the integrated audit department at Shell between 1991 and 1993 before joining Zenith Bank where he worked between 1993 and 2001.
He also worked at FSB International Bank Plc between 2001 and 2003 before becoming Executive Vice President of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited.
Mr. Wagbatsoma and his companies
Documents consulted by PREMIUM TIMES dated November 4, 2010 showed that Mr. Wagbatsoma founded and became the sole director of Ontario Resources and Trading Limited. The location of the company’s registered office was indicated in the memorandum and articles of association of the company as Suite 15, 1st floor Oliaji Trade Center, Francis Rachel Street, PO Box 1004, Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles.
Later in 2011, Mr. Wagbatsoma became Director and Sole Secretary of Mamlakah Energy Company Ltd, an existing company and operating under the laws of the British Virgin Islands.
M. Wagbatsoma and grant fraud
On Wednesday August 1, 2012, the EFCC arrested Mr. Wagbatsoma and other suspects involved in the fuel subsidy scam before the High Court in Lagos.
Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele and Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited were arrested alongside the businessman.
They were accused of obtaining property through false pretenses, tampering, forgery and conspiracy.
The case had been scheduled for a hearing a month earlier, but was postponed due to Mr. Wagbatsoma’s failure to appear in court.
At the hearing, the EFCC informed the court that Mr. Wagbatsoma had previously fled the country to escape arrest after learning of the charges against him. All efforts to arrest him were unsuccessful after he refused to honor the EFCC’s invitations.
The EFCC said charges were first laid against Mr. Wagbatsoma on July 20, 2012, but he claimed to have traveled out of the country on June 17, 2012, returning there on July 3, 2012, and departing on July 20. . when he heard of an accusation against him in court.
“A letter was received by the EFCC from the defendant’s company, Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, stating that he was out of the country for a medical examination and that he will be available upon his return to the country. . But this letter was dated July 18, 2012. He was therefore still very present in the country. Here are some accounts of the deception he used to confirm he escaped arrest. So far we have not been able to get his statement. He left Abuja for France at 9 pm on July 20, 2012 having heard, ”the EFCC then declared.
In May 2017, after a five-year trial, Lagos High Court Judge Lateefa Okunnu sentenced Mr. Wagbatsoma to a minimum of 10 years in prison on the six charges brought against him by the EFCC.
In her judgment, Judge Okunnu sentenced the managing director of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi, to 10 years in prison for defrauding the federal government of 754 million naira in oil subsidy transactions.
At the time of this verdict Mr Wagbatsoma was on trial over a UK £ 12million National Health Service (NHS) Trust fraud.
Reported and Undervalued
After reviewing the controversies related to the crime involving Mr. Wagbatsoma and his companies, Alcogal on June 5, 2013 wrote to the controversial businessman to inform him that he was resigning as a registered agent of his companies. . He was given 90 days to find a replacement.
Alcogal also wrote to the BVI financial investigation agency about his decision to withdraw from the management of the companies of Mr. Wagbatsoma – Pacsetter Trading Limited, Mamlakah Energy Company Limited and Alcamo International Limited.
The secrecy provider said the association with the flawed companies posed “a higher risk to our office than the risk tolerance levels currently set by our risk-based approach methodologies.”
It is not known if the businessman was finally able to find another registered agent for his besieged companies.
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