Nigeria: Pandora Papers – How Bishop David Oyedepo Created a Family Offshore Company in a Tax Haven
Rich and flamboyant, Mr. Oyedepo recently said that money had never been a problem for his church. This is the story of the BVI-based family business.
After Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy and the late Temitope Joshua, the founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations, David Oyedepo, founder and general overseer of Living Faith Church Worldwide, is the last Nigerian mega-preacher to start an offshore family. company in the British Virgin Islands.
Mr. Oyedepo’s offshore company has appeared as part of the ongoing global reporting project Pandora Papers, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and in which PREMIUM TIME is a key player.
The project involved 600 journalists from 150 news agencies around the world, sorting and analyzing a treasure trove of nearly 12 million confidential files, researching and interviewing sources, and adding context using public records and other documents.
The leaked files have been recovered from certain offshore service companies around the world who have set up shell companies and other offshore entities for clients, many of whom are influential politicians, businessmen and criminals seeking to cover up. their financial transactions.
In August 2007, Mr. Oyedepo contracted the services of Business Centrum Limited, an agent based in London, to help him set up a business in the infamous tax haven for himself and his immediate family.
Business Centrum subsequently outsourced Trident Trust Group, one of the world’s leading secrecy players and one of the most well-known providers of offshore corporate and financial services.
The company, Zadok Investments Limited, was formed on August 20, 2007 with 50,000 common shares valued at $ 1.00 each.
Although the directors of the company are Mr. Oyedepo and his two sons – David (junior) and Isaac, all of Mr. Oyedepo’s family members are listed as shareholders.
Mr. Oyedepo and his wife, Faith, are the main shareholders with 30% of the shares each.
His children – David (junior), who in 2016 was appointed resident pastor of the church headquarters, known as the Faith Tabernacle, has 10% while Isaac, who is the resident pastor of the branch of the church in Maryland, United States of America, also owns 10 percent of the shares.
Love and Joy – the clerk’s two daughters – also received 10 percent of the shares each.
The documents did not reveal the exact companies and transactions for which the offshore company was formed. The entity, however, appears to be the family’s investment vehicle under which the family’s wealth is stored for offshore management.
Contacted via his personal email address, Mr. Oyedepo did not respond to questions addressed to him to solicit his comments.
We also sent the questions to high profile emails from his church, including that of the Maryland branch of the church. Some of the emails are returned undelivered while no response has been received for those that have been delivered.
Mr. Oyedepo’s phone number shown in company documents could not connect.
Mr. Oyedepo may have extracted the name of his offshore company from the Bible. According to the books of 2 Samuel, 1 King and Ezekiel, Zadok was a priest loyal to the biblical king David.
He was instrumental in helping David quell the rebellion of his son, Absalom.
And he also aided in Solomon’s enthronement as David’s successor since he was the priest who anointed Solomon’s head with oil in Guihon, which made him the successor of his father.
After Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, Zadok was the temple’s first high priest.
An entrepreneur clerk
Although the cache of documents did not reveal what type of business the company was created for, some of the documents revealed that the company was still active at least in 2016, when Trident Trust filed a resolution of board of directors of the company revalidating its list of directors.
Meanwhile, Mr. Oyedepo, who felt “insulted” by his $ 150 million valuation by Forbes magazine in 2011, is one of the main proponents of the prosperity gospel in Christendom and summarizes this by its myriad of businesses.
“A guy said we were worth $ 150 million, I said it was an insult. $ 150 million? It’s an insult. I’m worth Philippians 4:19,” he said in referring to Forbes assessment.
Philippians 4:19 reads: âAnd my God will supply all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Recently, as he reacted to reports that some pastors in the church had been dismissed without benefits, Oyedepo, who called the dismissed pastors “unsuccessful” and “blatant failure,” said his church had never run out of money.
“Money? Nonsense! We never ran out of it and yet we never prayed for it. We just obey God and He supports what He asks us to do.”
âObedience will turn you into a living wonder. Just obey God. Have you seen us raise a prayer point of Oh God send us money?â He asked later during the speech. .
Apart from his evangelical work, he is best known as the founder of one of Nigeria’s most expensive universities, Covenant University. He is also the owner of Landmark University in Omu-Aran, Kwara State.
He also owns Faith Academy Limited alongside his wife, Faith. Faith Academy Limited is the company that manages the secondary boarding school of the same name.
Mr. Oyedepo is also known for his acquisition of at least four private jets, including a Gulfstream V, estimated at at least $ 30 million, two other Gulfstream jets and a Bombardier Challenger plane, which he operates with another of his companies, Dominion Air Limited.
Dominion Air Limited was established in 2005 and its second son, Isaac, is one of its directors.
Mr. Oyedepo also owns Hebron Oil Limited and many other companies primarily located in his Canaanland Estate in Ota, Ogun State.
Another company, Biblematch Media Limited, is managed by David Oluwamakinde Oyedepo and Olukemi Omolola Oyedepo.
Nigerian pastors and tax havens
PREMIUM TIMES had in 2013 reported how Chris Oyakhilome, one of Africa’s most popular pastors, has secretly incorporated Gmobile Nigeria, Limited, an offshore company for his family in the British Virgin Islands.
An associate of the pastor told this newspaper at the time that some directors of the company held shares in the name of the pastor’s daughters, Sharon and Charlyn, then teenagers.
The shareholders listed in the documents included Oyakhilome’s wife at the time, Anita; another pastor in his organization, Thomas Amenkhienan; an associate, Aigobomian Inegbedion; and another British Virgin Islands company, GTMT International Group Limited.
In 2016, another popular pastor, TB Joshua, has also been exposed for secretly setting up an offshore business entity.
Files obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from massive data leaks from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, showed that Mr. Joshua and his wife, Evelyn, owned Chillon Consultancy Limited, a company incorporated on June 20, 2006 in British Virgin Island (BVI).
The two owners each owned one ordinary share, although the company, registered under number 1033675, was authorized to issue a maximum of â50,000 shares of no par value of the same classâ.
The pastor passed away on June 5 of this year, and his wife fought against some members of the congregation over the management of church property.