Pandora Papers investigation has revealed how Pastor David Oyedepo set up an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.
Gatekeepers News reports that the offshore company owned by Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder and general overseer of Living Faith Church Worldwide, better known as Winners’ Chapel, has been uncovered in an investigation carried out by international journalists.
Oyedepo’s offshore company popped up as part of the ongoing global Pandora Papers reporting project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in which Nigeria’s PREMIUM TIMES is a key participant.
The project involved 600 journalists from 150 news organisations around the world sorting and analysing a trove of almost 12 million confidential files, tracking down and interviewing sources, and adding context using public records and other documents.
The leaked files were retrieved from some offshore services firms around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore entities for clients, many of them, influential politicians, businesspersons, and criminals seeking to conceal their financial dealings.
According to Pandora Papers, precisely in August 2007, Oyedepo contracted the services of Business Centrum Limited, a London-based agent, to help him set up a company in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.
Business Centrum subsequently subcontracted Trident Trust Group, one of the world’s leading secrecy enablers and one of the most notorious providers of offshore corporate and financial services.
The company, Zadok Investments Limited, was set up on August 20, 2007 with 50,000 ordinary shares with a value of $1.00 each.
Although the directors of the company are Bishop Oyedepo and his two sons – David (junior) and Isaac, every member of Oyedepo’s family are listed as shareholders.
Oyedepo and his wife, Faith, are the largest shareholders with 30 percent of shares each.
“His children – David (junior), who in 2016 was appointed resident pastor of the headquarters of the church, known as Faith Tabernacle, has 10 percent while Isaac, who is the resident pastor of the church’s branch in Maryland, the United States of America, also has 10 per cent of the shares.
“Love and Joy – the two daughters of the cleric – were similarly given 10 percent shares each.
“The documents did not reveal the exact businesses and transactions the offshore company was set up to conduct.
“The entity however appears to be the family’s investment vehicle under which the family’s wealth is warehoused for offshore management.
“When reached via his personal email address, Mr Oyedepo did not respond to questions sent to him seeking his comments.
“We also sent the questions to the publicised emails of his church, including that of the church’s branch in Maryland. Some of the emails returned undelivered while we did not receive any response for those that delivered.
“The telephone number Mr Oyedepo listed in company documents failed to connect,” the collaborator reported.
Although the documents did not reveal what type of business the company was set up for, some of the documents revealed that the company was still active at least as recently as 2016 when Trident Trust filed a resolution of the company’s board revalidating its list of directors.
Outside his evangelical work, Oyedepo is mainly known as the founder of one of Nigeria’s most expensive universities, Covenant University. He also owns Landmark University in Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Northern Nigeria.
He also owns Faith Academy Limited alongside his wife, Faith. Faith Academy Limited is the company that runs the highbrow boarding secondary school that goes by the same name.
Oyedepo is also known for his acquisition of at least four private jets which includes, a Gulfstream V jet, said to be worth at least $30 million, two other Gulfstream planes and a Bombardier Challenger aircraft, which he operates using another of his companies, Dominion Air Limited.
Dominion Air Limited was set up in 2005 and his second son, Isaac, is listed as one of its directors.
Oyedepo is also the owner of Hebron Oil Limited and a slew of other businesses mostly located in his Canaanland estate in Ota, Ogun State.
Another company, Biblematch Media Limited, has David Oluwamakinde Oyedepo and Olukemi Omolola Oyedepo as directors.