Wednesday , April 24 2024

Panama Papers: T.B. Joshua’s tax haven company revealed

Temitope Joshua is arguably the most influential preacher in Africa. The founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN) attracts huge numbers of people from across Africa and beyond, many of them seeking faith healing from ailments and exorcism from demonic possession.

On September 12, 2014, a guesthouse within his church collapsed, killing 116 people, most of them South Africans, who travelled to the Lagos headquarters of the church for pilgrimage.

The cleric has also endeared his Christian ministry to many political leaders on the African continent who throng his church, with some of them openly testifying that he correctly predicted the outcomes of the elections that brought them to power.

One of the African leaders who believed in Mr. Joshua’s prophesy was former Ghanaian president, John Atta-Mills. After his inauguration in 2009, the first visit made by Mr. Atta-Mills, a Professor of Law, was to the Synagogue, as Mr. Joshua’s church is commonly called.

Mr. Atta-Mills died in office on July 24, 2012. It remained unclear whether Pastor Joshua saw his death coming. The pastor’s television station, Emmanuel TV, is believed to be one of the most viewed in the continent. Apart from evangelism, Mr. Joshua is not known to be involved in any other business.

However, files obtained by Premium Times from the massive leaked data of a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, has now shown that Mr. Joshua and his wife, Evelyn, own Chillon Consultancy Limited, a company incorporated on June 20, 2006 at the British Virgin Island (BVI). Both owners own one ordinary share each, although the company, with registration number 1033675, is authorized to issue a maximum “50,000 no par value Shares of a single class.”

It remains unclear what businesses Mr. Joshua transacted with the shell company which has no physical presence in Tortola, the largest and most inhabited island at the British Virgin Island. Chillon Consultancy Limited uses the office address of its registered agent, Mossack Fonseca (Akara Bldg., 24 De Castro Street, Wickhams Cay 1, Road Town, Tortola) as its contact information in the British Virgin Island.

Mr. Joshua is the second Nigerian mega preacher shown to set up offshore companies in tax havens. An April 2013 investigation by Premium Times had exposed Chris Oyakhilome, founder and leader of Christ Embassy, as incorporating Gmobile Nigeria Limited, an offshore firm in 2007, at the British Virgin Island.

Although other individuals were listed as shareholders and directors, that investigation was able to determine that the pastor’s teenage daughters – Sharon and Charlyn – were the real beneficial owners of the company. Like many mega preachers in the country, Mr Joshua is reported to live in opulence.

Last September, online news website, Sahara Reporters, claimed the televangelist bought a Gulfstream G550 aircraft in April 2015. According to Sahara Reporters, the jet, registered as “Synagogue Of Nations,” was purchased using the Bank Of Utah trustee as front. A Gulfstream G550 is sold for as much a $45 million and could take up to $3 million dollars in yearly maintenance cost. Mr. Joshua did not respond to this newspaper’s multiple requests for comments.

A person who picked his phone when he was called last week said the he was not available to take calls. He requested our reporter to send an email. But an email sent to his church’s official email address was also not responded to.

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