Mega Church Pastor, Oyakhilome, Incorporates Secret Company For Daughters In Caribbean Tax Haven-PREMIUM TIMES

Chris & Anita Oyakhilome
By Musikilu Mojeed

Secret documents link family and associates of one of Africa’s most popular pastors, Nigerian televangelist the Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, to an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.

A business associate of the pastor says some directors in the company held shares on behalf of the pastor’s daughters, Sharon and Charlyn, who are now teenagers.

The company in question is Gmobile Nigeria Limited, an offshore firm incorporated in 2007 in a Caribbean tax haven, the British Virgin Islands, according to a cache of documents reviewed by Premium Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).  The shareholders listed in the documents include Oyakhilome’s wife, Anita; another pastor in his organization, Thomas Amenkhienan; a business associate, Aigobomian Inegbedion; and another British Virgin Islands’ company, GTMT International Group Limited.

Oyakhilome is founder and president of one of Africa’s largest Pentecostal churches, Believers Loveworld Inc. (aka Christ Embassy), which claims “hundreds of churches … affecting millions of people” in all the continents of the world, with a strong presence in the United Kingdom, South Africa, United States, Canada and Nigeria.  

He has also set up satellite broadcast channels in the United Kingdom (LoveWorld TV), South Africa (LoveWorld SAT) and Nigeria (LoveWorld Plus). He hosts a TV show, Atmosphere for Miracles, which airs on television networks in Africa, North America, Australia, Asia and Europe, according to his church’s website.

His church has a series of business interests, the website says, that include vibrant TV and Internet ministries and a publishing outfit that churns out the popular “Rhapsody of Realities” booklet, which is like a second Bible to members of his church.

He is as controversial as he is entrepreneurial. Critics believe he is excessively flamboyant, dressing most of the time in expensive suits, top-of-the-range shirts and ties and exotic shoes.

Some of his critics have alleged that he has staged miracles, bringing forth impotent men, infertile women and people with AIDS who testified they’d been instantly healed. In the wake of controversy over faith-healing practices by Oyakhilome and other pastors, the Nigerian government banned unverified miracles from television in 2004.

His wife, Anita, is also a pastor in the church. She heads the international division of the ministry and is regularly credited with growing the church’s presence around the world.

Until now, there has never been any suggestion that she was involved in financial dealings.

Documents reviewed by ICIJ and Premium Times show that Anita Oyakhihome held 17, 750 of Gmobile’s 50,000 shares, with Amenkhienan owning 1,500 and Inegbedion 750. The fourth shareholder, GTMT International, also a British Virgin Islands’ company, owned by South African investors, held 30,000 shares.

The documents show that some of these individuals held shares in trust for two minors. The records don’t identify the minors, but Inegbedion confirmed that the minors referred to in the documents were the Oyakhilomes’ daughters, quickly adding that there was nothing wrong with that.

“Their parents bought the shares for them because they have rights to own shares,” Mr. Inegbedion said. “A day-old child has a right to own shares in companies.” He declined to say which of Gmobile directors held shares in trust for the girls.

The Oyakhilomes did not respond to emails sent to their personal and church websites.
 

Setting Up Gmobile

In 2007 Anita Oyakhilome and her partners retained the services of a Dubai-based company, Covenant Management Consultancy (CML), to help it register Gmobile Nigeria Limited in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a Caribbean chain largely controlled by the United Kingdom.  On June 26, 2007, CML in turn approached BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL) to complete the task of setting an offshore company.

After some preliminaries — including name checks and consultation with lawyers — CML’s Susha George wrote to CTL’s Shonia Mathew on July 3 giving her the go-ahead to incorporate Gmobile. In that same two-paragraph message, George informed CTL “two shareholders of this company are minors.” She also asked whether additional documents or procedures were needed for the minors to be owners of the company.

Mathew replied the same day, saying that shares of the company could only be held in trust for the minors.

“Please note if the beneficial owners are minors, then the shares would need to be held in Trust for them until they are of age to act in that capacity,” she wrote, adding that “it may be wise to contact an attorney regarding the formalities of the company.”

Aig Inegbedion…. “Nothing wrong with the Oyakhilome girls holding shares”.

Seven days after Gmobile’s incorporation, company records show, shares were issued to Anita Oyakhilome, Amenkhienan, Inegbedion and GTMT Limited, a BVI company.

Another curious aspect of the company, which became dormant on May 1, 2009, was the makeup of its board of directors. Its first director was not a human being but another offshore company, Covenant Managers Limited, an offshore firm also set up by Dubai-based Covenant Consultancy Limited in July 2005 to offer nominee services to corporations and individuals incorporating companies in the BVI. In the offshore world, nominee directors or shareholders serve as stand-ins that allow the real people behind companies to keep their identities hidden.

As first director, Covenant Managers approved the opening of a bank account in the United Arab Emirates or any other place in the world.  It is not known in which bank the account was eventually opened nor whether it was used to move funds.

After Covenant Managers officially resigned, GTMT directors were brought on board together with Anita Oyakhilome, Inegbedion and Amenkhienan as directors. They were Willem Johannes Jacobus Van Der Merwe, Karen Ann Smith and Daniel John William Mills. Reporting by Premium Times determined that Van Der Merwe, Smith and Mills were based in South Africa but we could not ascertain how they came to be associated with the Oyakhilome clan.
Inegbedion said the idea of incorporating Gmobile in a tax haven was suggested by the South Africans, who he said argued that BVI was an ideal neutral ground for the business partnership the Oyakhilomes were forging with GTMT to carry out the business of distributing data compression software in Nigeria.

“We were looking for a neutral ground where both parties could feel safe,” Inegbedion said in a telephone interview. “So we had to go to British Virgin Islands. But it was our partners who handled the registration.”

The only South African partner Premium Times was able to track down, Karen Ann Smith, declined to comment on the formation and businesses of Gmobile.  “You are on the wrong trip, guy, as I’m not interested in talking about that business,” Mrs. Smith said on telephone.  When she was pressed for details, she said, “You are wasting my time, as I have no interest in speaking to you.”
 

Fleeting Appearance

Gmobile does not appear to have carried out any business in Nigeria, South Africa or the BVI.  Inegbedion and another individual who identified himself as Danny Mills made a fleeting appearance before journalists in Lagos in October 2007, almost four months after Gmobile was registered in the BVI, to say the firm was unveiling a GMobile product which allows users to maximize data storage and make an array of communications and services possible.
Danny Mills was introduced as the international sales director of Gmobile, while Inegbedion was introduced as chief operating officer of an unknown firm, LW GNet Nigeria.

Apparently, nothing has been heard of that product since that event. Today, Inegbedion introduces himself on his Facebook page as managing director of Paradigm Biz Solution Limited, a company the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission also says does not exist in its database.

Remmy Nweke, a well-regarded Lagos-based communications reporter, was among those who covered Gmobile’s press conference at the time. “Well, they came and met the media and said they were rolling out an irresistible product,” Mr. Nweke said via telephone. “But that was the last we heard of them.

They simply disappeared.”

Inegbedion said Gmobile was unable to roll out the product because the company’s partners in South Africa failed to deliver after his team, led by Anita Oyakhilome, paid $1.8 million for a distribution license.

To all appearances, Gmobile was simply a failed business venture. But other companies incorporated in tax havens such as the BVI have become known for involvement with illegal activities, including money laundering and tax evasion.
 
Taking advantage of the loose laws in several jurisdictions, offshore companies are easy to form in tax havens and owners can remain anonymous while using nominee directors as fronts and deploying the corporations to hide ill-gotten assets, launder funds, dodge litigation or evade taxes.  Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, for example, was convicted of stealing public funds while he was governor of the oil-rich Nigerian state of Bayelsa. The state recovered more than 17 million British pounds from him, including assets he held through Solomon and Peters Limited (a company registered in the BVI) and Santolina Investment Corp. (a company incorporated in the Seychelles). Last month, he received a presidential pardon. Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has also accused another ex-governor, Abubakar Audu, of using two offshore companies in Bermuda (another tax haven) to hide ill-gotten assets. Audu denies the allegations.
 

Dealing with a questionable firm
The BVI Financial Services Commission found CTL, the offshore services firm that helped the Oyakhilomes to incorporate Gmobile, to be in repeated violation of the BVI’s anti-money laundering law between 2003 and 2008.

Thomas Ward, a co-founder of CTL who has worked as a consultant to the firm since it was sold to the new owners in 2009, said the company worked hard to make sure it didn’t take on shady clients.

“We believe we chose our clients carefully and we believe they honoured their agreements with us,” he said. But at times CTL’s staff was “either deceived or previously honest customers changed.”
 

-Musikilu Mojeed, managing editor at Premium Times in Abuja, Nigeria, is currently a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

Comments
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Lies....

thank u...atleast someone knows the truth...none of these things are true besides pastor chris is amazing and he has changed many lives including mine...im 13 but as a kid growing up in christ embassy i have seen lots of things so if u r out there making false accusations against my pastor...i hav 3 words for u....GO TO HELL!!!

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Mr henry ogoli shut up

Pls talk to mr henry ogoli because he doesn't deserve living among us for he is ignorant of God's word. Am also ready to sow a seed of 50million naira to him if he can become a preacher and change my life the way pastor chris did.

No crime here

"Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as
possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the
treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes.
Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister
in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone
does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any
public duty to pay more than the law demands."
-- Judge Learned Hand
(1872-1961), Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals

Hi Chidi,are you

Hi
Chidi,are you remember you are after few year in Qeutta Pakistan.

Re-BORN aGAIN YOU SEE WHAT I AM

Faith found found countries have never delivered on their promises. They promise liberty and peace but deliver human rights abuse,insability and intolerance. Please, read the history of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia before you propose your utopian Arewa Islamic RepublicM

they live large in UK

THESE PEOPLE LIVE LARG IN UK. POOR MEMBERS PLEASE STOP SUPPORTING THIS THIEVES BECAUSE GOD ALMIGHT WILL JUDGE YOU TOO FOR DOING SO. THEY ALL FLY FIRST CLASS AND DRIVE THE MOST EXPENSIVE CARS AND LIVE IN MANSIONS.

he should establish himself like mike adenuga ,dangote and other

Chris should establish himself like mike adenuga ,dangote and others not to d detriment of his members. Chris is not an entrepreneur obviously he his using church money for himself

Born-again, you see what I am

Born-again, you see what I am talking about. If you believe that freedom of worship and freedom of association is enshrined in our constitution why not allow Imam Shekau and his people to break away and actualize the Islamic Republic of Arewa where their freedom of religion and association will flourish? You see how double standard is plaguing the British Protectorate of Nigeria, one standard of expectation for Mohammedans, another for Christians and the godless.

Dont blame him

Don't blame the man.All he is doin is playing on the greed of people.
Most people give him money in the hope of something in return.

Mega Church Pastor's Investors

I wonder why this publication should occupy a column in this highly placed medium. Does it mean that we no longer have relevant issues that should warrant objective investigative journalism rather than this idle gossip? If you actually want people to be visiting this site, you should bring something of relevance to the table.

Dear Mr Henry Ogoli, if you

Dear Mr Henry Ogoli, if you start a church and begin to preach messages that will turn my business around the way Pst Chris' message did, or rather take my business to a higher level, because it's already turned around, I promise to sow a seed of N10m into your life. Until then, just shut up and stop exposing your ignorance of God's word. Leave us alone to continue in our 'foolishness' With prosperity.

(James 3:1).

We are not surprised. One of Anita's inlaw's married to one of her brothers informed us that Anita employed her whole family and gave all of them official cars paid for by Christ Embassy church members. The Bible says that God will judge teachers more strictly than others (James 3:1). Let them live on. Maybe they will take all that they stole from church members to their graves. May the all might God open the eyes of their church members. Blame his church members not him. Members shall also face judgement for supporting such company so called church

His daughters

His daughters Sharon and chayln are useless and dress like wayward idiots. God will destroy their acts!

Evil & money preachers indeed!

Although whatsoever is said, you'll still have fools & vulnerable idiots exploited by these criminal pastors, preaching prosperity, that is only at the expense of blind followers. No worries, all those who obtain by this cheat, merely live in the fools paradise, they'd certainly perish like their fore-runners and equall 419 kingpins. Carry-on Chris & Anita, you ain't any smarter!!!.

Whatever happened to : "Give to Ceaser..."

All of you writing rubbish about SR chasing "criminals in cassocks" lack common sense and are deeply hypnotized. You have to be fools not to realize that a "tax haven" is where you establish business to dodge taxes. If the clown were honest, why didn't he register the business in any of the countries where he has a large following? Most of you fake born-again crowd are actually abused by these spurious pastors. Simply ask the crook : 'what about Ceaser's share?' as admonished by Christ himself. Technically, there's nothing wrong in securing his childrens' future, but, what sort of precedence is he setting to those kids in a "tax haven" ...after collecting his full tithe?

Nigerians have religion-damaged mentality, the lure to riches using staged testimonies has left most victimized, poorer. Yet, peasants flock to Mammon Alters believing in exoteric "miracles" while simultaneously nursing hopeless fantasies. A mugu is born every minute. A Fool's Wealth is Temporary. Animals!

Pastor Chris is nothing but a

Pastor Chris is nothing but a fraudster who have found an easy way of making money.

POVERTY MENTALITY

best selling authors pst Chris & Anita Oyak... ur company is goin down u r jst lukin for headlyns to brng it bak into bussiness.& for u commentators bear in mind u r fighting d anoitin nt pst.go bak to ur bible noone fights d prophet of God & goes scot free eg Elijah of old d prophet of God

Ha ha ha ha ....

Ha ha ha ha .... Mmh!
Fools!
1. Is your money missing?
2. Did he collect the money from you to invest?
3. How does this information add any value to your life?
4. If you woke up tomorrow morning with 50 million dollars, what will you do? (die perhaps)
5. Go get a life. This is not a question, it's a suggestion, that is if you have common sense to take it.
Thank you Almighty God for making our lives beautiful.
You are invited to any of our Services in Christ Embassy anywhere in the world.
FYI - the Healing School is open and mental cases (like those exhibited by the writer of the article) can be addressed by the power of Almighty God working in and through our man of God, Pastor Chris.
Love you Pastor Chris!

OH MY PEOPLE...

Oh my People… If you don’t see anything wrong with a “Man of God” amassing so much wealth for himself that he has to hide it in offshore accounts, then we should not see anything wrong with the likes of Alameighsegha. Afterall, he can also justify his actions by saying he was trying to “leave an inheritance for his children’s children”. By the way, is inheritance only material? How about a good name and reputation?
What is wrong with accountability in the House of God? Is it wrong for the congregation to know how Tithes and offerings are administered? How many of our MOGs can declare their assets? We see them living large, but we hardly see their ministries building Hospitals and Schools for the poor but they use our Offerings and tithes to establish businesses for themselves, family and friends, while majority of their congregations are poor. How are they different from the politicians? Isn’t that the story of Nigeria? Abeg, let’s start to open our eyes.

"stealing in the name of the Lord"

I think Max Romeo captured it all in that his song....I can hear and agree with him on Oyaksy "yet the reverend drives round in fancy cars gets everything tax free, but the people have to sacrifice to give him charity!" I can also remember the case a few years back of a poor hotel worker stealing to sow the seed of a generator into the church....the moral fibre of anyone who defends this atmopshere of corruption in or out of the church is I daresay, at best threadbare

Oleku you are not well

Oleku you are not well wallahi. See what european life has done to you. Better find your way back home. Crazy man

Christ and Anita are seperated

Chris and Anita are separated for sure. people and inlaws working for them confirmed that chris will visit UK and stay in hotel close to the wife's mansion. From very reliable sources

SR, YOU CAN SPEND YOUR TIME MORE PROFITABLY

Rather than wage a relentless war on an adversary which has refused to see itself as such, SR should spend its excess time on improving the qualities of its services. It is only on SR that a comment submitted will take upwards of 12 hours to appear. On other websites it is a matter of seconds. Sometimes, on SR, comments submitted do not get posted at all. The faulty nature of 'CAPTCHA' is responsible for comments being repeated. These and many more place SR behind other blogs in terms of quality.
Having said that, one finds it disgusting that the private life of a Nigerian citizen has become the subject of such intense interest. What anyone does with his money and for his family is very private. If the Pastor has invested for his children that does not breech any known law. Why does SR not focus on the emirs who have 100s of children and own properties all over the world? They are equally 'spiritual fathers'. Where does the money come from? This monumental hypocrisy has to stop.

Anita's inlaws

We are not surprised. One of Anita's inlaw's married to one of her brothers informed us that Anita employed her whole family and gave all of them official cars paid for by Christ Embassy church members. The Bible says that God will judge teachers more strictly than others (James 3:1). Let them live on. Maybe they will take all that they stole from church members to their graves. May the all might God open the eyes of their church members. Blame his church members not him. Members shall also face judgement for supporting such company so called church

My thoughts exactly. They

My thoughts exactly. They have no news, and Pastor Chris names sells so they need to stay relevant. Lol

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