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|Nigeria Ports Authority Dupes Nigerian Government. by BlackRevo: 10:08pm On Jul 23, 2009|
The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) is reputed to be one of the nation’s cesspools of corruption. This reputation is secondary, perhaps, only to those of its sister agencies, the Nigerian Customs and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company.
That the NPA operates for the benefit of its officials is no news to the average Nigerian, not with the assignment of its leadership to persons of questionable reputation over the years with the latest of them being the notorious senior People’s Democratic Party (PDP) official, Tony Anenih.
In their efforts to rape the Nigerian people and the NPA of their resources, those saddled with running the affairs of this crucial government agency have extended their kleptomania beyond the shores of Nigeria, into England. In buying landed properties for the NPA in England, some of the agency’s officials have devised a fraudulent means of inflating the value of the properties by interposing other parties in between the vendors and purchasers, a practice known as property flipping.
Westside Estates is the NPA’s property agent in London while Angle Builder’s Ltd is its contractor. On March 3, 1997, NPA purchased a property (1 Temple Road, NW2 6PJ), from Milverdene Ltd for the sum of 110,000.00 pounds. On March 26, 1999 it purchased another property (18 Rowden Avenue, NW10 2AL) from Garpoint Ltd for the sum of 340,000.00 pounds. Rather than pay 110,000.00 and 340,000.00 pounds for each property and take the titles to them, the manipulation began.
Here is how the game was played: Angles Builders Ltd was then brought in to take the titles to the properties for 110,000.00 and 340,000.00 pounds respectively. But within minutes of doing so, Angle Builders Ltd turned around and sold both properties to the NPA for 475,000.00 and 205,000.00 pounds respectively. This instant fraud cost the Nigerian people 135,000.00 and 95,000.00 pounds respectively.
All the manipulations in the sequence of transfers did not, and could not have happened without the knowledge of NPA employees in London. In fact, NPA paid the contractor the inflated price for both properties before the contractor even took the titles from the respective vendors, Milverdene Ltd and Garpoint Ltd. This pre-payment was to enable the contractor use the money to pay for purchase of the properties before reselling them to NPA for the whopping ‘profits’ of 95,000.00 and 135,000.00 respectively.
Mr. Linus Okere, the then NPA accountant in London, appeared to be one of the brains behind these schemes. Mr. Galadima Labetek, the chairperson of the Ministerial Committee to implement government’s decision on the alienation of landed property in the Maritime Sector instructed the estate managers to involve the police. The decision to call the police was overruled by one Mr. Abubakar (the NPA London representative, now redeployed to Nigeria) on the flimsy excuse that involving the police will delay the Committee’s assignment. Mr. Abubakar did not call the police after the committee completed its work. However, Mr. Abubakar decided that the Nigeria Port Authority would no longer deal with Angle Builders Ltd. Once Mr. Abubakar returned to Nigeria from London, Mr. Okere and the new representative resumed dealings with Angle Builders Ltd. Angle Builders was infact reward with juicy renovation contracts worth 60,000 pounds for property located at 49 Peter Avenue, NW100.
No one should expect the current head of NPA, the “almighty fixer” Tony Anenih to provide any explanation. After all, he has been posted to NPA by Yar Adua to do precisely things like this. He is there to illegally raise money for the revival of PDP’s fortunes in Edo State and the party’s preparation for the rigging of 2011 elections. Unintentionally, Tony Anenih may be one of the first persons to benefit from this investigation by “shaking down” Mr. Okere and others involved in this fraud for his own share of the loot. He may even be insulted by how easy it is.
The legal technique used in transferring the two properties from Garpoint Ltd to Angle Builders Ltd is known as flipping. It almost always involves the near-simultaneous transfer of a property between three or more parties for a value higher than the transfer preceding the next. It is often used to obtain inflated mortgages from banks or to defraud subsequent purchasers like the NPA in the immediate case. Flipping involves at least two crimes. The first is tax evasion because the difference between the real value and inflated value is often hidden from the tax authorities to avoid payment of income tax and the shady nature of the transaction. The second crime is the transfer of a property for more than its actual value. It is almost impossible for property flipping to take place without crimes being committed.
Flipping has been banned in many countries because of its inflationary effect on the value of real estate. It is not known if it is legal in United Kingdom. The practice remains legal in many countries, including the United States. Some experts believe that the overheating of the real estate market and the subsequent over mortgaging of real estate for phantom equity in the United States contributed to the current economic meltdown. Canadian authorities believed the practice contributed to its real estate market crash of the late eighties, hence the strong restrictions now placed on it.
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