Obi’s refusal to turn over the financial account of his UK-based firm, NEXT International, for a legally-mandated review has prompted allegations of fraud and forced the UK government to shut down the firm over suspected illegal dealings and possible misappropriation.
This was the finding of a recent media investigation made public this week. The investigation, led by Nigeria’s Premium Times, found that the company was purged from the record in September 2021 after it failed to comply with income and account management regulations, despite a first and second gazette notice of compulsory strike off of the entity.
This strike off of the company was in keeping with UK regulations which stipulate the action as a penalty for companies that refuse to comply with the obligation on annual financial reviews put in place to promote accountability and discourage funds diversion.
Obi’s company reportedly refused to heed the multiple warnings it received to surrender its account for scrutiny due to an alleged plot to hide certain questionable transactions that may attract stricter penalties.
It should be recalled that the former Anambra governor who is running to be president on the platform of the Labour Party was named in the infamous PANDORA PAPERS leak, which detailed the surreptitious financial dealings of public officials hiding questionable sums of money in off-shore tax havens.
The axes company, it is reported, was incorporated on the 16th of May, 1996, and was managed by Obi and his wife, Margaret, as directors.
Records also show that the company was registered as business “agents involved in the sale of a variety of goods” in England and Wales.
Obi was also found guilty of contravening Nigerian law with his refusal to resign his directorship position in the firm after taking office on the 17th of March 2006.
The report states, “In Nigeria, a person is statutorily required to withdraw from engaging in or directing a private business, except if it is farming, upon becoming a public officer, Section Six (6) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act provides.
“The former governor admitted in 2021 that he did not declare these companies and the funds and properties they held in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Nigerian government agency that deals with the issues of corruption, conflict of interest, and abuse of office by public servants.
“At the time, Mr Obi said he was unaware that the law expected him to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else.”