In the midst of the global financial scandal in which more than $2 trillion worth of transactions between 1999 and 2017 were flagged by internal compliance departments of financial institutions as suspicious, more documents have revealed further wire transactions by Nigeria’s Sahara Energy Resources Limited.
Documents obtained by our reporters showed that in 2017, Sahara Energy wired over $16 billion from its Nigerian banks’ accounts to an address in Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency island famed as a safe haven for laundered money and tax fraud.
The monies were wired from different Nigerian banks namely Ecobank (Account Number 22147199) and United Bank for Africa, UBA, (Account Number 1006467909), to No. 12-14 Finch Road, Douglas, Isle of Man, the office of BNP Paribas.
Recall that in 2016, according to bank documents being assessed by a consortium of international anti-corruption agencies, Sahara Energy wired over $40 billion from Nigerian banks to the same address in Isle of Man. The address is the Isle of Man office of BNP Paribas, a French international bank with a presence in about 72 countries and ranked 8thlargest bank in the world in terms of assets.
BNP Paribas has had a history of financial crimes. In 2017, the bank had to pay various fines in the US for sundry breaches.
In recent years, global anti-corruption bodies have intensified investigations into leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen).
The SARs, which, according to reports, numbered more than 2,100, were obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media organizations. Sifting through the maze of reports, the ICIJ reported that the files contained information about more than $2 trillion worth of transactions between 1999 and 2017. These transactions were subsequently flagged by internal compliance departments of global banks as suspicious.
Some notable Nigerians and corporates were mentioned in the detailed preliminary report of the investigators with some currently placed on watch-list.
Further documents obtained by our investigative reporters showed how Sahara Energy Resources Limited consistently wired huge sums of dollars from Nigerian banks in Lagos to the Isle of Man. The wire transactions for the year 2017 followed the same pattern as the previous year, something said to have triggered the curiosity of investigators.
For instance, on January 20, 2017, Sahara Energy wired the sums of $129,535,048.89; $33,681,375.00 and $30,634,452.42 to its BNP Paribas account. The transfers became more frequent as the year wore on.
It made more transfers from its Ecobank account in the month of March 2017. On March 14th, it wired the sums of $713,126,492.92; $7,172,935,014.06; and $10,555,332.75.
By April 2017, transfer activities shifted to its UBA account. On April 3, it wired the sum of $400,000,000. April 11 was a particularly busy day for its UBA account. It moved the sum of $50,000,000 in eight transactions bringing the total to $400,000,000.00.
The transfers continued all through the year with more activities in November and December. On December 13, 2017, two transfers were made in the sums of $788,812,695.60 and $200,000,000. The next day, another $200,000,000.00 was wired to the same Isle of Man address.